Evaluation of vehicle lightweighting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with focus on magnesium substitution

Siddharth Kulkarni, David John Edwards, Erika Anneli Parn, Craig Chapman, Clinton Ohis Aigbavboa, Richard Cornish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Vehicle weight reduction represents a viable means of meeting tougher regulatory requirements designed to reduce fuel consumption and control greenhouse gas emissions. This paper aims to present an empirical and comparative analysis of lightweight magnesium materials used to replace conventional steel in passenger vehicles with internal combustion engines. The very low density of magnesium makes it a viable material for lightweighting given that it is lighter than aluminium by one-third and steel by three-fourth. Design/methodology/approach: A structural evaluation case study of the “open access” Wikispeed car was undertaken. This included an assessment of material design characteristics such as bending stiffness, torsional stiffness and crashworthiness to evaluate whether magnesium provides a better alternative to the current usage of aluminium in the automotive industry. Findings: The Wikispeed car had an issue with the rocker beam width/thickness (b/t) ratio, indicating failure in yield instead of buckling. By changing the specified material, Aluminium Alloy 6061-T651 to Magnesium EN-MB10020, it was revealed that vehicle mass could be reduced by an estimated 110 kg, in turn improving the fuel economy by 10 per cent. This, however, would require mechanical performance compromise unless the current design is modified. Originality/value: This is the first time that a comparative analysis of material substitution has been made on the Wikispeed car. The results of such work will assist in the lowering of harmful greenhouse gas emissions and simultaneously augment fuel economy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)869-888
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Engineering, Design and Technology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 27 Nov 2018


  • Emission reduction
  • Greenhouse gas emissions
  • Lightweight materials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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