Aptiv opens door to lightweight design in vehicle electrical systems

April 17, 2018 //By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Aptiv opens door to lightweight design in vehicle electrical systems
A special coating of the connection systems makes it possible to use copper and aluminium in an electrical-electronic on-board network.

Autonomous driving, sophisticated vehicle networking and communication as well as complex driver assistance systems and new equipment features make the call for new architectural concepts for the electrical networks in the car become loud. Aptiv - a spin-off of the supplier Delphi - develops the nervous system and brain with which the car can better fulfil these tasks.  The use of new materials such as aluminium is part of the development work. 

For a long time, car manufacturers have been striving to use lightweight aluminium cables to save weight. However, copper proved to be the gold standard in cable design for many decades, despite its weight. The reason: The (plugged) connection between copper and other materials generated system-induced corrosion due to the electrochemical series. With Aptiv's SMC (Selective Metal Coating) technology, connectors and cables made of copper and other materials can now be connected without corrosion. Thus, copper in the cable looms can be replaced by aluminium without the corrosion occurring. Aptiv has thus opened the door to new possibilities for weight reduction in automotive engineering.

Aptiv has already successfully tested the SMC connection technology in various vehicle models from four car manufacturers. The company’s experts are confident that the new technology will enable weight reductions for the wiring systems in vehicles by 2 kilograms in the short term. In their opinion, weight savings of up to 48% are possible in the long run. Since, depending on the vehicle type, the wiring system is the second or third heaviest individual element - after the engine - in a vehicle, the importance of this innovation for lightweight construction cannot be overestimated.

For their achievement, Aptiv recently received the "Automotive News PACE Award" in the USA.

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