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Honda Technology Reduces Door Panel Weight by 17%

Honda Motor Co. has developed a technology to join steel and aluminum, which the automaker says will reduce vehicle weight to improve fuel economy.

Traditionally, outer door panels have been made of steel. Honda has applied the technology to make an aluminum outer door panel, and says it will use this first on the North American version of the new Acura RLX, which will go on sale in the US in March, before expanding the application to other models. The new technology reduced door panel weight by about 17 percent compared to the conventional all-steel door panel, according to the company.

Joining the two metals required several different technologies to prevent electrical corrosion and thermal deformation caused by the different expansion rates of steel and aluminum. Honda developed three technologies that enabled adoption of aluminum for the outer door panel. These include:

  • Technology to join dissimilar materials: adoption of “3D Lock Seam” structure, where the steel panel and aluminum panel are layered and hemmed together twice (see figure 1).
  • Technology to prevent electrical corrosion: adoption of highly anti-corrosive steel for the inner panel and a new form that assures the complete filling of the gap with adhesive agent (see figure 2).
  • Technology to control thermal deformation: adoption of adhesive agent with low- elastic modulus and optimized position of  the 3D Lock Seam.

 

These technologies eliminate a spot welding process required to join conventional steel door panels, Honda says, and do not require a dedicated process, which means existing production lines can accommodate them.

Honda received 31 fuel cell patents and one hybrid/electric vehicle patent in the third quarter of 2012, Energy Manager Today reports.

Earlier this year at the Detroit Auto Show, Honda unveiled its Urban SUV Concept, part of Honda’s global series of compact vehicles, will be available in the US in 2014. The vehicle will be nine inches shorter than the Honda CR-V and will be priced below the larger model. Also at the show, the automaker debuted the latest concept version of its 2016 Acura NSX sports car, which Automotive News reports has one of the world’s first high-output hybrid drive systems. The two-seater will enter production in two years.

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