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Advanced light materials and their production processes for automotive applications

Proposals will have to address at least one of the two following technical areas:

  • Lightweight materials and design (both bullet points hereunder must be addressed):

- Lightweight materials (both metallic and reinforced plastics) for automotive applications which are economically-viable including multi-material concepts that allow cost-effective material separation, recycling and recovery, taking into account environmental impact through Life Cycle Assessment;

- Manufacturing and assembly methods and tools to guarantee structural integrity, reliability and long service life by design for lightweight materials (e.g. through understanding of failure mechanisms, of impact of ageing phenomena and the effects of manufacturing processes on a microstructure level) including their experimental and model-based characterisation;

  • Cradle-to-cradle approach both bullet points hereunder must be addressed:

- Methods for the adoption of the circular economy and eco-design approach from the earliest stages of vehicle development, integrating product design and sustainable manufacturing, and including the optimal use of recycled and/or bio-ressourced materials;

- Implementation of advanced methodologies for improved design capabilities via numerical simulation, virtual and physical testing and validation, for the lightweight design of different vehicle types. These methodologies will not cover batteries.

The primary focus of the activities is on light-duty electric vehicles, where weight minimisation and its impact in terms of improving vehicle efficiency and range is top priority; nevertheless proposals can investigate and exploit, where it can be demonstrated to be appropriate, the potential benefits of application to a wide range of road vehicles including heavy-duty.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 3 and 5 million would allow the specific challenge to be addressed appropriately.

In the drive to improve efficiency and range of EVs, continuous research and innovation is required for the deployment of advanced light materials. In particular, significant yet affordable weight reduction is possible through the application of eco-design principles and the use of appropriate hybrid, multi-material solutions with integrated multiple functionality to guarantee that all other performance (crashworthiness, reliability, durability etc.) are maintained. Importantly for automotive applications, future developments must adopt the circular-economy principle, including innovative options for end-of-life recovery, reuse, recycling and the optimised use of recycled materials and efficient remanufacturing. The challenge is to adopt such an integrated approach in order to reduce environmental impact and increase energy efficiency across the entire vehicle life-cycle from design, through production and use, to recovery.

  • Demonstrated affordable and sustainable vehicle weight reductions of at least 10% with respect to the results already achieved by previous projects in the same area, through the optimised deployment of advanced light materials;
  • Reduction in vehicle development and hence in the lead times for the market introduction of new, more energy-efficient vehicles, through the use of advanced methodologies and numerical simulation tools;
  • Widespread deployment of procedures to ensure structural integrity and safety of components made of advanced light materials while promoting their efficient repair and reuse through in-service health-monitoring and inspection;
  • Effective solutions for reuse, recycling and/or energy recovery of all materials, components and sub-systems in line with forthcoming ELV legislative requirements;