Aluminum Und... Command Seating Position? Range Rover to Get Light

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Illustration for article titled Aluminum Und... Command Seating Position? Range Rover to Get Light

Years ago, just hours before purchasing my first Cherokee, I strolled across the street to the Land Rover dealership. Not that it was within my price range, but the Defender 90 was definately worth thinking about. I read the specs. Then I spoke with the salesman, "Hey, how come this Land Rover weighs half a ton more than a Jeep?" He reached behind the counter. "Here," he said while handing me a 16-ounce lug nut. "This is why." His point? Land Rovers are beefy, heavy, over-engineered muthas. Soon, however, all that will change. Just-Auto is reporting that the next generation Range Rover – due in 2012, just in time for the Mayan Apocalypse – might rely on loads of Aluminum to make their flagship both lighter and greener. And they can borrow the chassis technology from fellow PAG relation Jaguar. How much weight are we talking? About 900 lbs, or under 20% of the ultra-lux SUV's curbage. Are we stoked? A tad, though we'd be much more out of breath if they just bit the bullet and went all carbon fiber. Maybe in 2013.

Next-gen Range Rover to benefit from aluminum [motorauthority.com]

Related:
More Maximum Overfinch: 440hp Range Rover Sport [Internal]

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DISCUSSION

@ SebringMGB -

the Audi A2 compact had an all-aluminum chassis, the much larger A8 still does.

In addition to the very high (energy) cost of primary aluminum production, the main problem turned out to be achieving the required tolerances in sheetmetal bending. The A2 required a lot of expensive reworking. Nevertheless, the somewhat ugly duckling is currently enjoying a second wind in the German used car market, because it is quite fuel-efficient.

Aluminum and high-strength steels do represent a large portion of the non-sheetmetal bits of autmotive chassis as well as engine and transmission parts. Aluminum recycling is a growing industry in Europe. Perhaps this trend is not yet prevalent among US manufacturers, where even after the price increases of recent years, fuel still only costs half as much.

Despite its low Young's modulus, aluminum permits increasing the stiffness of a particular subassembly via appropriate design, while keeping its weight down. However, the material is much less well suited to increasing a component's strength, especially if available space is an additional constraint. This is probably a big reason it is not used as much in SUVs and pick-ups.