Lightweighting in the Automotive Industry – a Green Path of Development

Düsseldorf, 19.10.2022

How is lightweight construction developing in the automotive industry? The Weiqiao Group – in the context of a large-scale event “Leading the way and creating new perspectives” in the Chinese province of Shandong – gave an insight into its production and technology.

The interview was conducted at the Weiqiao Lightweight Base in Zouping.

Presenter: I am currently inside the Weiqiao Lightweight Base in the Zouping Economic and Technological Development Zone. This facility, funded by Shandong Weiqiao Pioneering Group, which was both built and put into operation in the same year, makes an important contribution to promoting high-quality development in Binzhou city. At the same time, it is also an important project of Weiqiao Pioneering Group for environmental protection, green development, accelerating modernisation and actively promoting industrial transformation. At the same time, it is also an important project of Weiqiao Pioneering Group for environmental protection, green development, accelerating modernisation and actively promoting industrial transformation. To get to know the Lightweight Base better, the head of the facility, Mr Liu, will give us a brief introduction. Good afternoon Mr Liu.

Gang Liu, General Manager of Shandong Weiqiao Lightweight Materials Ltd.: Good afternoon.

Presenter: Beside me I can see a whole car body. Was Weiqiao’s lightweight technology used to produce it?

Gang Liu: Yes, this is our aluminium van body. It was assembled with screws and rivets, which gives it its stability and shape. It has a relatively high degree of rigidity and weighs only 156 kg.

Presenter: So, we have a lighter body, but what about environmental protection and safety?

Gang Liu: This vehicle has been tested several times, simulated on the test bench and meets all national safety standards. By reducing its weight, the range of this electric vehicle for instance is increased by 3-5%. With a petrol car, fuel consumption can thus be reduced by 0.6 litres per 100 kilometres and CO2 can be reduced by 1350 grams. Additionally, we have aluminium superstructures and can achieve a recycling rate of 95%.

Presenter: So this means that, whilst ensuring safety and stability, the weight of the car body and therefore also its energy consumption is reduced.

Gang Liu: A perfect combination.

Presenter: Shandong Weiqiao Lightweight Base is focused on the production as well as research and development of lightweight vehicles and automotive parts. Currently, the company is working with numerous colleges and universities to build the largest and most advanced automotive lightweight parts production and research base in China. Coming up next, I will show you how such a lightweight aluminium body is made at the Hong’ao Automotive Lightweight Base production facility.

Presenter: I am here in the vehicle body integration workshop of Hong’ao Automotive Lightweight Technology Ltd. in Weiqiao Lightweight Base. So here we have one of the world’s leading production lines and we have the pleasure of welcoming the company’s general manager, Mr Jia, who is going to share its secrets with us. Good afternoon Mr Jia.

Zhengyu Jia, General Manager of Shandong Hong‘ao Automotive Lightweight Technology Ltd.: Our workshop has an annual production capacity of 20,000 all-aluminium bodyshells and its automation level stands at 80%. Thus, the balance level of the whole workplace can reach up to 90%, which can significantly reduce the workload of our employees. Also, as you can see, there are not many workers on the sides of the production line. On average, there is likely to be less than one worker per station. We also follow a green environmental concept throughout our entire workshop. Above this welding station you can see a red cap, which is used to collect smoke and dust to protect the health of the workers. In one of our production lines, 70% of the welding is done using the cold welding technique. It is also an environmental requirement that we aim to use the cold welding process in the production of aluminium vehicle bodies. One could say that our production line is the only one of its kind in the whole country.

Presenter: How does it differ from your previous technology?

Zhengyu Jia: With it, unlike our regular welding equipment, there is no light, no spatter and no dust. It will also significantly improve the quality of our products.

Presenter: Thank you very much for the interview!

Source: Zouping News, September 12

About WEIQIAO Germany GmbH: WEIQIAO Germany GmbH is a European subsidiary and European headquarters of the Chinese Shandong Weiqiao Pioneering Group. The group includes three listed companies, two of which are listed in Hong Kong, 12 domestic and overseas production sites and over 100,000 employees worldwide. The group covers the complete value chain of the textile and aluminum industry.