Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania -- Designers from auto maker Mazda used a lightweight under-body made with Bayer Material Science's Baypreg F polyurethane composite to produce its futuristic MX-0 vehicle.
This concept car competed in the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show Design Challenge, which asked for a vehicle's weight to be slashed less than 1000 lb (454 kg).
The Design Challenge was for a vehicle for 2020, but "Mazda designers set their sights on a lightweight vehicle that, among other things, could be mass produced using materials technologies that exist today," said Bruce Benda, vice president, automotive marketing for Bayer Material Science llc, in a 12 Jan company statement.
Mazda started from a "featherweight" MX-5 Miata, weighing little more than 2000 pounds, and systematically cut weight, often by using unique design methods and materials.
It used a bonded two-piece monocoque structure, similar to a Formula One car, for the safety cell, subframes, body panels and interior surfaces. Production of this structure could be automated using the Baypreg F polyurethane composite sandwich, said BMS, allowing a safety cell/body panel weight of 100 lb compared with the MX-5's 665 lb, according to Mazda specifications.
The concept vehicle also uses polyurethane for the wheels and some structural components. Ultimately, the MX-0 would weigh in at just 999 lb.
In 2009, BMS points out, the average light vehicle weighed 4108 lb, according to federal statistics.