Decker, L. and Truskin, J., "Design of a Composite Structural Panel for High Volume Production," SAE Int. J. Passeng. Cars - Mech. Syst. 8(2):531-537, 2015, doi:10.4271/2015-01-1311.
As CAFE requirements increase, automotive OEMs are pursuing innovative methods to lightweight their Body In Whites (BIWs). Within FCA US, this lightweighting research and development activity often occurs through Decoupled Innovation projects. A Decoupled Innovation team comprised of engineers from the BIW Structures Group, in collaboration with Tier 1 supplier Magna Exteriors, sought to re-design a loadbearing component on the BIW that would offer significant weight savings when the current steel component was replaced with a carbon fiber composite. This paper describes the design, development, physical validation and partnership that resulted in a composite Rear Package Shelf Assembly solution for a high-volume production vehicle. As the CAFE requirements loom closer and closer, these innovation-driven engineering activities are imperative to the successful lightweighting of FCA US vehicles.