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Clearing out the Trunk

21st Jul 2017 5:56 pm

Sergius Barretto discusses the ways and means that carmakers use to lower the weight of their cars.

No matter what Donald Trump says, global warming is real. The ice caps are melting and the coastline is rising. So, burning less fuel and emitting fewer greenhouse gases are quite the mission today. And weight, or rather the loss of it, is at the forefront of this venture. A 50kg reduction in weight can translate to a 2 percent improvement in efficiency in a mid-size sedan. That’s saving the planet and your wallet too. 

At the launch of the new Dzire, Maruti highlighted the new car’s lightweight platform and its fuel efficiency gains. The new Dzire has lost around 100kg, making it about 10 percent lighter than the previous car and it now returns a maximum efficiency of 28.4kpl on the diesel engine. That’s a 6.8 percent improvement over the previous car’s 26.59kpl. There has been a retune to the engine as well, but Maruti does state that weight reduction has played a large part in the efficiency gain.

So, while manufacturers go about lightweighting their new creations, we can do our bit to help out. Don’t fret, I’m not suggesting a carbon-fibre hood or throwing away some parts altogether. There are far simpler things to do. Take, for instance, the foot mats. In our endeavour to keep the carpets clean, most of us reach for the thick rubber ones. Simply using a thinner set can save about 2 to 4kg. These can be just as durable too. 

Carry your sports gear with you all the time? A friend of mine does; his cricket gear is always in the boot, even though he plays only on weekends. Sure he saves some space at home and there’s no chance he’ll head to a game without it, but just think, that’s easily about 6kg being lugged about every day of the week.

Do you really need your entire neighbourhood grooving to your bass tune? A 12-inch sub with a box enclosure can weigh 12kg. Then there the are amps, crossovers and whatnot we add to our cars. All added weight. Consider a smaller sub and you could save your wallet and maybe your eardrums too. 

Then there’s a filling technique that could save you more. If you drive very little and live close to a pump, consider filling a little less fuel each time. A litre of petrol weighs about 750g, thus filling 20 litres instead of 30 can get you a seven and a half kg weight reduction. So far that’s near 30kg reduction. Enough to make any engineer proud. But wait, there’s 40 more to be saved. 

Fries. Yes, French fries! The unhealthy fattening food. Consider a family of four overweight by about 5kg each. That’s an excess of 20kg. Now, before you go throwing brickbats my way, consider this: airlines around the world keep toying with the idea of charging according to our weight. Touchy as the topic is, in 2013, Samoa Air became the first airline to charge passengers according to body and luggage weight. So, the next time you reach for the fries, think again, you could save your waistline and the coastline too. 

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Sergius Barretto

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Sergius has been a part of the automotive industry for 18 years, fixing, selling, training and consulting on all things automotive. Auto enthusiast by birth. Auto engineer by education. Now auto journalist by profession.



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