The demand for lightweight materials in automotive applications has never been higher as the manufacturing industry strives to meet ambitious sustainability targets set by governments across the world. At the same time, the vehicle manufacturing sector is also tasked with meeting consumer demand for greater fuel efficiency in the face of consistently high petrol and diesel prices.

According to research specialists Research and Markets, the global automotive lightweight materials market is predicted to grow by US$42 billion over the next 5 years. Valued at US$73.3 billion in 2022, the market is expected to reach US$115.0 billion by 2028. This growth has been largely driven by the automotive industry’s need to produce vehicles with greater fuel efficiency, whilst also ensuring recyclability within the supply chain.

Reducing weight in electric vehicles and hybrids

Using lightweight materials throughout the vehicle’s structural framework and interior helps offset the weight of power systems such as electric motors and batteries. They also help extend the range of electric and hybrid vehicles, which are usually heavier than cars powered by internal combustion engines. The average non-electric car in the UK currently achieves 38.8 miles per gallon but this is predicted to rise to an average of 45.7 miles per gallon in new passenger vehicles in Europe by 2025.

The manufacturing industry as a whole has reacted to the rising demand for lightweight materials by investing significantly in research and development, as well as in production facilities to support the manufacture of more sustainable components and products. Companies such as Interflex have committed to finding the most cost-effective high-performance materials on the market to achieve these aims. However, these materials also have to be fit for purpose – and of course, safe.

Why weight is so important

Weight is a significant factor in fuel efficiency, whether driving a car or towing a caravan as obviously, it takes less energy to accelerate a lighter object than a heavier one. This means that a 10% reduction in vehicle weight can result in an impressive 6%-8% improvement in fuel economy. Furthermore, if structural and interior weight is reduced, cars can also carry other emission control systems, as well as safety features, without increasing vehicle weight. This is particularly important for electric and hybrid vehicles as a way of offsetting the weight of power systems such as batteries and electric motors, offering the option of either improving range, or reducing battery size whilst maintaining the range.

Ocean – a versatile, lightweight high-performance solution

At Interflex we manufacture and supply Ocean, which is used for a variety of interior and exterior applications, including wheel arches, bulkheads, acoustic pads and door trims.  As a material designed to reduce NVH not just in cars, but also in trains, construction projects, marine and leisure vehicles such as caravans, Ocean is lightweight to meet sustainability criteria. However, it also offers highly effective acoustic insulation and absorption to meet manufacturer and consumer demand.

Ocean is also versatile and can be sonic welded to most plastic substates, eliminating the need for adhesive backings. It is heat sealable and available in both water and oil resistant versions. As a mouldable material it can also reduce tooling costs and shape complexity in the design and manufacturing process.

Can Interflex help you?

The answer is yes, if you are looking to improve performance whilst reducing weight. Find out more by calling 01494 861 494 or emailing today.