The recently revealed Renault EOLAB concept is providing a glimpse of our ultralight, aerodynamic future with its seemingly hyperbolic fuel-efficiency rating: 100km/liter (translating to 235 mpg on the Euro cycle). It may also be previewing the unbearable lightness of mpg’ing.
With its generous use of magnesium, aluminum, and specialty plastics and polymers, the EOLAB enjoys an 880-pound weight savings over the current Clio IV. And with a 0.235 drag coefficient (a reduction of 30 percent from the current Clio), the EOLAB is a pure technical exercise, a demonstration of what is achievable when a car is designed with a singular purpose—in this case, fuel efficiency.
A closer look at the EOLAB, however, reveals the really big number: 100. That’s 100 as in “around 100 new, realistic technological developments”—generally unspecified but all related to fuel economy and emissions—featured in the EOLAB that “will be introduced gradually” into production Renault models. One presumes that these goodies may also find their way into corporate cousin Nissan’s products. With government-mandated fleet fuel-efficiency standards rising and the inevitability of gas prices going up, automakers are in a kind of arms race to find new ways to lighten vehicles to make the most of smaller engines.
Not only does the EOLAB use specially adapted materials to shave weight, it also previews how coming vehicles will have to mitigate their costs. Rather than use all-aluminum construction, the EOLAB employs a magnesium roof along with aluminum and hot-stamped thermoplastic. None of these items is inexpensive today, but this mix of materials shows how dramatically lighter vehicles can be produced without leaning exclusively on one specific, often prohibitively expensive, process.
Other advances in the EOLAB that we can expect to see in the near future involve its aerodynamic design—especially in its use of active aerodynamic pieces, which are only now beginning to trickle down from the highest of high-end performance cars. One particularly cool bit of tech is found in the wheels of the EOLAB, which use sensors to open and close flaps depending on whether the brakes need cooling. The EOLAB’s hybrid powertrain includes a 999-cc three-cylinder gas engine mated to a clutchless three-speed automatic transmission, with elements of the drivetrain, chassis, and suspension built with weight-saving aluminum wherever possible. Even the EOLAB’s seat frames are magnesium, and an electric parking brake has been installed for the sake of saving a few pounds.
Some of the elements shown in the EOLAB are generations from being realized for production duty, but Renault insists that many are also on track for vehicles we’ll be seeing on the market within a few years.
via Car and Driver Blog http://ift.tt/1C4JmS1