3 Advantages of Lightweight Vehicles
If you’re used to driving heavy-duty pickup trucks, body-on-frame SUVs, or any other heavy model, you may be wondering what the benefits of a lighter-weight vehicle would be. Cutting down on heavy materials like steel in order to create a lighter vehicle is actually a major goal among most automakers, and for good reason.
Unbeatable Energy Efficiency
Heavy vehicles simply can’t compete with a lightweight model’s fuel economy. In fact, a survey of 900 designers and engineers showed that reducing a car’s weight is a primary focus among automakers for hitting their emissions targets and ideal fuel economy. Engines mounted in lightweight vehicles don’t have to work as hard to keep a car in motion, which is why drivers are able to keep more money in their pockets at the pump.
According to Scientific American, reducing a car’s weight by as little as one-tenth will boost its fuel economy by 6 to 8 percent. Steel remains the preferred material among most auto engineers, but other durable alloys are proving to be just as strong without the disadvantages heavier materials bring to the table. Plus, increasing amounts of technology are only adding to a vehicle’s weight, creating the need to reduce that weight in other areas. Nissan, for instance, has vowed to significantly reduce the weight of its car range in 2016, which is great news for car buyers.
There’s a misconception that lighter cars aren’t as safe as big, bulky vehicles, but that simply isn’t the case anymore. Innovative materials composed of carbon-fiber composites, aluminum, magnesium, and steel blends have allowed engineers to reduce vehicular weight without compromising strength and durability.
Crash tests have shown that steel bends, folds, and deforms when absorbing energy, sort of like a crushed soda can. Carbon-fiber composites, on the other hand, split into layers and fracture their inner polymer matrix. It all sounds high-tech, but the bottom line is that composite materials have actually been proven to have better energy absorption than solid metals such as steel.
Not only are lightweight vehicles more efficient and up to snuff on their safety ratings, but they also boast an enhanced performance you won’t find in heavier models. Models made from heavier steel may feel solid behind the wheel, but they can also feel clunky and awkward when it comes to steering and pulling into tight parking spaces. With a lightweight vehicle, you don’t have to worry about any of that.
Modern cars, trucks, and SUVs designed with lightweight composite materials are more maneuverable than ever, allowing you to whip into tight spaces and corner like a dream. Lightweight vehicles also tend to get better performance ratings because they can accelerate much quicker than a hefty competitor. Combine that improved performance with better safety ratings, and it’s a wonder why any automaker would continue to produce heavy-steel models.
There are plenty of advantages to owning a lightweight vehicle, but only time will tell just how far automakers are willing to go to reduce vehicular weight. Thankfully, you can take advantage of the lightweight vehicles currently on the market and start saving money in fuel costs today.
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