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2013 Toyota Avalon sheds 110 pounds

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September 10, 2012

The 2013 Toyota Avalon (Image: Toyota)

The 2013 Toyota Avalon (Image: Toyota)

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With U.S. mileage standards set to rise to 54.5 miles per gallon (4.31 liters per 100 km) by 2025, Carmakers are working flat out to make their vehicles burn as little fuel as possible. One approach is to develop new drivetrains based on hybrid or all-electric technology, but regardless of the platform, weight reduction remains very much a part of the equation. Toyota is pointing to its 2013 Avalon as an example of its progress on this front, having designed the mid-size sedan with 110 pounds (50 kg) less weight than the 2012 model.

Lightening a car seems like an easy thing to do, but in practice it’s a tricky balancing act of requirements and tradeoffs. Do you make the car lighter by using less steel? But if you do that, how do you protect the passengers in crash at the standard required by law? You could put in a lighter engine, but that may mean poorer performance. Or you could use composites, but that puts up the price. On the other hand, reducing weight in one area allows for savings in others. A lighter chassis, for example, means that smaller tires can be fitted for even more savings.

Grill view of the Toyota Avalon (Image: Toyota)

Based on the Lexus ES, the Avalon is Toyota’s flagship sedan. It's built in the United States and Australia for the for the North American and Middle Eastern markets.

Toyota took a broad approach to the task of making the Avalon both lighter and more rigid so that the weight reduction would be rewarded with better handling.

“We established two main mass targets early in development: lowest mass among competitors (mass vs. vehicle size) and reduction of one inertia weight class rank," says Dave Katarzynski, Program Manager of Avalon Vehicle Development. "As part of each design engineering group's agreement, mass targets were set for each group. The groups then managed their part by part mass to keep their target and help control the overall goal. Hundreds of mass reduction ideas were tracked throughout development and periodic reviews checked status.”

One form of weight reduction was replacing the polypropylene resin used in the bumpers with a more fluid high-performance version. Another was using high-strength steel in the pillars and rocker panels to lighten them while maintaining safety standards.

These and similar reductions give the new Avalon Hybrid sedan a weight of at 3,461 lbs (1570 kg), compared to 3,571 lbs (1620 kg) for the 2012 model. Toyota says the car will make 40 mpg and will be the lightest vehicle in the premium mid-size segment when it hits showrooms later in the year.

Source: Toyota

About the Author
David Szondy David Szondy is a freelance writer based in Monroe, Washington. An award-winning playwright, he has contributed to Charged and iQ magazine and is the author of the website Tales of Future Past.   All articles by David Szondy
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5 Comments

Our mileage standards are years behind Europe's. Here is a 2008 article about cars getting 40 to 62 mpg on diesel. Come on America give us high mileage diesels!

Mark A
10th September, 2012 @ 09:17 pm PDT

Mark,

the diesels are very economical here in the UK there are small cars that can give 80mpg(uk) /67mpg(us).

The only problem is the operating temperature range is reduced, we had what I would call a severe winter recently -20C and the diesel started to get a bit too thick to run, I guess that is why the US likes gasoline!

livin_the_dream
10th September, 2012 @ 11:42 pm PDT

re; livin_the_dream

There are different types of diesel fuel and the cold weather fuel costs more but with the right fuel cold weather is not a problem. Several states and the EPA on the other hand...

Pikeman
11th September, 2012 @ 04:44 am PDT

the best fuel would be battery power if they'd just hurry up and develop the 10xlife Lithium cells into commercial products we would no longer be dependent on foreign oil.

I guess there is a lot of reluctance, after all how would the Taxman get his greedy hands on our cash if we generate our own power source (windmill).

Sorry for going off topic a little, great achievement Toyota!

livin_the_dream
11th September, 2012 @ 11:46 pm PDT

3% weight reduction? So what does that translate into in fuel savings? Is that offset by higher price? The excuse of not using composites because they are too expensive may be true but I would like to see an independent study made. Also, I would like to know how high gas prices have to rise before light weighting and/or diesel are cost effective.

They change the look every year for the sole purpose of raising price. Why has the new design not been more aerodynamic? It costs nothing since they change the outward appearance anyway. It is one of the two fundamental ways to increase efficiency but it is neglected. How many times have you heard a carmaker brag about low drag? But all of them just love to brag about how they increased power. There seems to be an unwritten rule in the U.S. that the higher the MPG, the uglier and smaller it must be. Also, if a car is a sexy two seater it must be a sport, i.e., powerful instead of efficient. Why has no U.S. car been offered that is efficient and sexy?

voluntaryist
18th September, 2012 @ 04:14 pm PDT
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