Metabo Mania Hits Japanese Automakers
Japan has laws mandating the size of your waistline. And now the auto companies are slimming down their cars–any way they can. Automotive News [sub] reports Nissan plans to reduce its fleet's average weight by 15 percent by 2015 (from 2005 levels). Toyota is looking for a 10 percent loss. Mazda wants to pare 220 lbs. from each of its new models. Honda's trimming down (2008 Accord notwithstanding), but hasn't publicized any goals. Automakers are doing what they can to lose weight, from using aluminum and plastic body panels to re-engineering existing components to make them lighter. For example, the next Prius' electric motor will be one-sixth as heavy as the current powerplant; the batteries will weigh half as much. Honda's even going so far as to shave off slivers of steel between spot welds on the Fit to save a few ounces overall. Adding lightness is an expensive business, but with existing safety regulations and new fuel efficiency standards, there may be no choice.
More by Frank Williams