it Is likely that your car is heavier than that used some years ago, or that the car you learned to drive. It is a fact. We talked about vehicles of the same category, comparable, and we won’t go into the other question, equally important, as is the tendency of buyers to purchase larger vehicles, and heavy, the fashion of the SUV. We use a recurring example that I especially like, the example of the Opel Astra. In its first generation, and without turning away, in both time and to go to the Kadett, you could drive a Astra F around the ton. The last Opel Astra marketed to for years, according to versions, of over 1,500 kg, and is even closer – and much – 1,600 pounds. Always talking about masses in running order.
For decades the mass of cars has been steadily increasing, which implies a decrease in his agility, their performance, and their energy efficiency.
As a result of the excesses of christmas in our body, those extra pounds more at the end notice. The first feeling of a driver when put at the controls of a car, the heavier it is the more evident, the need of higher power to feel that your car pushes like it should. In these years has happened to us on more than one occasion, for example, the Astra, we were with the car not pushed as it should for the power approved for your engine. But it is not the only direct effect and appreciable by the driver who put a minimum of attention on the sensations that transmits a drive. To increase the mass, you can also get more complicated to handle, do you lose agility, or even display awkward in certain situations, such as quick changes of direction, or having to deal with stretches of mountain, with steep slopes and slow corners.
there is Still another consequence, which in the long run yes that you will appreciate. A car more heavy, necessarily, will enjoy a consumption higher, and as a result will emit more polluting gases. Probably this last aspect is the most heavy in order to get the industry to take seriously the issue of lightening. But back to the crux of the matter, why modern cars are heavier?
Everything that you see in a modern car, that once was not there, increases its mass. But what is more important is what we do not see.
keep in mind that in the last decades there has been a continuous growth in the dimensions of our vehicles. Today we understand that a utility such as the Opel Corsa has a length of about 4 meters and is next to the Kadett, and the first Astra that the Opel Astra modern. For sample a button (see special: 10 pictures that show how they have grown (and gotten) a modern car.
But even ignoring the previous point, we think that everything that we see (and before it was not) increases the mass of our car. The mass of our car increases with those beautiful liners of the dashboard and the door panels, those precious sports seats are also very comfortable, that great climate control that will keep track down the windows in summer, as was done in the past. It also increases with those beautiful 19″ wheel that we love, and those tires that we always kept in contact with the asphalt, and even for aspects that we often do not have in mind, and that which is not visible to the naked eye.
did you Know that even the electrical systems of our cars have led to the increase of its mass in the order of tens of kilograms? Did you know that a modern car is more quiet and comfortable that we were driving two decades ago, among other things by a lot of kilograms in the form of acoustic insulation, carpet, and tile?
The security has been forced to design our cars with structures designed to withstand impacts and protect the passenger compartment, but also to deform progressively and absorb energy of the collision.
we will Not forget one of the most important aspects of the safety. Our cars are heavier, among other things, the need to enhance its security. That would probably be the greatest revolution that has lived through the industry in the last few decades, making the odds of surviving traffic accidents, which in their day were mortal of necessity, has increased. Active systems, such as stability controls, ABS, Airbags, etc., increase the mass of our car, but on all the passive systems.
Our car has become a work of engineering, composed by structures with a clever design (see article: Deconstructing myths, they don’t make cars as hard as before). We speak of structures designed to withstand an impact, or a rollover, and prevent the passenger compartment is deformed, trapping or injuring their occupants. But also of structures designed to absorb the energy of the impact, structures of controlled deformation (see article: The wrinkle is beautiful, the importance of controlled deformation in a car).
One of the most obvious reasons of why our cars have increased in mass of this form is not other that the security. The hardening of the tests, as carried out by EuroNCAP, and the awareness of authorities, manufacturers, and buyers, about the importance of security, has led manufacturers to create safer cars, but also heavier.
from now on we acostumbraremos that every new vehicle is lighter than its predecessor, and stop the increasing trend that we had seen over the decades.
Said, how do you think the industry reverse that trend, and get our cars in a few years that are lighter than ever?
modern cars will not be able to waive the security, or the equipment, but on the contrary, will require a greater number of systems, which in addition will be more sophisticated than the current. At that point, the only solution that remains for us is to do that, somehow, those elements that are lighter. And it is then when they come into play different aspects, such as downsizing, the use of engines more compact and lighter. And, above all, the use of new materials, and do so with intelligence, advocate for structures that achieve the same purpose structural – rigidity, and protection – with less material, and less mass.
Returning to a model in which we had focused all our attention – and all of our iras – in this article I will give you one piece of information. The last generation of Opel Astra, which from this year is available at dealers, has been able to save up to 200 kg according to versions. The new Audi A4 has lost weight to 120 kg, and the Audi Q7 up to 325 kilograms. Very soon the modern cars will be safer, faster, more efficient and more comfortable than ever before, but also much lighter. A subject really interesting which I’ll talk about, in depth, in the next article.