Car makers have been trying to find ways to lighten up their cars, as part of the quest to get more fuel-efficient. Never the company to show restraint, Land Rover has lightened the 2013 Range Rover quite a bit, shaving nearly 1,000 pounds off the curb weight.
Just do not expect 2013 Range Rover to be cheaper
Land Rover makes two types of vehicles, namely fully-loaded, uber-swank luxury boxes for the well-to-do and the Defender, a utilitarian, off-roading beast, for the well-to-do.
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That said, even a company like Land Rover is not immune to the changing times. Government regulations and high oil prices are forcing automakers to introduce more fuel efficient vehicles into their lineups. As a result, a number of engineering techniques and design philosophies have been brought to bear, including weight reductions.
Hence, Range Rover has, according to USA Today, introduced a number of low-weight components to the 2013 Range Rover to shed some pounds. Never ones to shy from being ostentatious, the company has trimmed the car by 926 pounds.
Aluminum the next big thing
The company lightened the 2013 Range Rover by adding aluminum. A lot of it. Also, since the company is British, the reader should try saying it “al-u-min-i-um” in their heads. It sounds pretentious, but then again, people who actually drive Range Rovers often are.
The new version employs an aluminum uni-body design, 39 percent lighter than the steel box on last year’s version. The largest weight savings are from the aluminum engine block, as using aluminum for the block on the 5.0-liter V-8 is responsible for 700 fewer pounds of weight. It comes with an eight-speed transmission, so combined with a 900-pound-plus weight reduction will make for an appreciable boost in fuel economy. The previous model, according to the Washington Post, was equipped with a six-speed.
Range Rovers are known for a second fuel-saving feature, namely terrible reliability. They break down a lot to save money, as a running car uses fuel.
Owners might appreciate the break on gas money, as the car loan payments on a Range Rover are going to be hefty, seeing as the 2012 Range Rover started at $80,275, before options.
Other car makers doing likewise
Aside from the 2013 Range Rover, many car makers are using aluminum along with other materials and techniques, to reduce weight. More weight means the engine has to work harder, ergo worse fuel economy. Ford, according to USA Today, is said to be looking at aluminum blocks for the engines in the 2014 F-150, which could likewise save 700 pounds. Ford, coincidentally, used to own Land Rover.
Part of Mazda’s SkyActiv engineering, according to AutoBlog, is reducing weight, including a 30 percent reduction of weight in the power train. At dealerships from California to Valpariso, IN, Mazda CX-5 crossovers and Mazda3 sedans are already available with the SkyActiv platform.
Other strategies, such as using carbon fiber where possible, are also being employed. According to the Detroit Free Press, there’s also talk of ditching CD players, as most people use smartphones or media devices for music these days. That would save at least 5 pounds.
Detroit Free Press: http://www.freep.com/article/20120511/BUSINESS01/205110330/Car-designers-wrestle-with-weight-reduction