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16-Sep-2015  Düsseldorf / Germany

Henkel solutions reduce the environmental footprint of vehicles

Lightweight construction and adhesives are revolutionizing the automotive industry

When the automotive industry gathers at the IAA in Frankfurt this week, numerous manufacturers will be presenting new fuel-saving models and vehicles that are either hybrid or with all-electric drives. One key to their success is lightweight construction – and innovative adhesive bonding.

The rear axle of the new Volvo XC90 features a new transverse leaf spring, made of lightweight composite material. Benteler-SGL mass-produces the composite leaf springs for the rear suspension using Loctite Matrix resin from Henkel.

Tighter regulations and increasingly stringent CO2 limits in Asia, Europe and the USA are posing huge challenges for all car makers. In the EU, new models will have to comply with an emissions limit of 95 grams CO2 per kilometer by 2020. Achieving that goal means reducing fuel consumption, and hence weight. The latter is even more important for electric cars: Only very powerful batteries allow attractive ranges of up to 500 kilometers, but these are very heavy and can only be installed in extremely lightweight cars.

Since the trend in cars has been toward larger rather than smaller models and to increasingly sophisticated electronic controls, there are not many ways left to reduce weight. One possibility is the car body, which makes up about one-quarter of the vehicle’s weight. Currently, car bodies made of lightweight materials like aluminum, reinforced steel or carbon composites have a market share of just ten percent, but in the premium segment, this figure has already climbed above 50 percent. Experts from McKinsey expect lightweight construction to become widespread by 2030, with a global market volume of around 300 billion euros.

Advanced high-performance adhesives also have the potential to significantly reduce vehicle weight (by up to 15 percent). Welding is increasingly being replaced by adhesive bonding, such as that offered by Henkel. Other Henkel products are used for sound absorption in vehicles, where they can replace heavy bitumen mats, for example. Furthermore, Henkel’s coating solutions improve corrosion protection and the wear behavior of components made of lightweight metals.

Adhesive solutions from Henkel have evolved into a key factor for future economic success in the automotive industry. At the same time, they have a positive effect on the environmental footprint of the manufacturers themselves.