Japan Making Cars Lighter, More Fuel Efficient


Honda Motors has unveiled a new engineering technology using aluminum to make vehicles lighter and more fuel-efficient.

Honda officials unveiled a sample car door made with the technology.

Honda engineers melded hard steel with light aluminum. They say one of the keys to the technique is the way the two metals are folded. The technique also relies on special adhesives.

The new method can be used on car parts such as door panels and trunks. Honda officials say it will shave around 20 kilograms off a vehicle's weight. The new metal is lighter than steel and cheaper than aluminum.

Honda plans to use the technology in a new model set to go on sale in the United States next month and Japan next year.

Honda isn't the only carmaker trying to make lighter cars. Domestic and overseas car brands are pursuing the same goal.

Last year, Japan's Suzuki Motor rolled out a mini-car that's about 70 kilograms lighter than the previous model. It reduced the use of regular steel and instead employed high-tensile-strength steel for the body.

German carmaker BMW plans to release an electric car and other models in Japan next year. They use carbon fiber for much of their bodies. Carbon fiber is lighter than steel.

Experts say the key to winning the race to produce lighter vehicles lies in their safety, performance and competitive pricing.

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