There’s been all kinds of technological innovations to the interior of cars—AI technology, autonomous driving, touchscreen displays—but what about the body and exterior? Luckily for auto body repair students, there’s been plenty done to modernize cars’ outer components.
Auto companies are experimenting with new and innovative materials, which are having a big effect on how car exteriors look and function. Here are three exciting innovations to watch out for if you’re studying auto body repair.
Ford Has Been a Trailblazer in the Use of Aluminum for Vehicle Exteriors
Ever since Henry Ford started using steel as his cars’ primary material, Ford has constantly been looking for innovative ways to use new materials. For their 2015 F-150 pickup, for example, they changed the main material to aluminum, which improved fuel economy and helped the vehicle shed 700 pounds.
But not everyone has embraced aluminum like Ford has. Despite aluminum being both strong and light, other companies have stuck with steel. Toyota and Nissan, for instance, have continued using steel for their hybrid and electric cars respectively.
However, Ford hasn’t stopped innovating with vehicle materials just yet. The recently unveiled 2020 Explorer is comprised of a mixture of aluminum, steel, magnesium, plastic, and other materials. The result is a vehicle that is about 200 pounds lighter than its previous model, so those pursuing auto body technician careers might end up working on vehicle bodies that are made of a surprising variety of materials.
Lighter Steel Could Be on the Horizon for an Auto Body Repair Technician to Work On
Don’t be quick to assume steel is becoming outdated, though. In response to concerns that steel isn’t fuel efficient or light enough for today’s automotive standards, Japan’s Nippon Steel Corp. brought a research team together to brainstorm ways to make car parts more lightweight using steel.
The result is an all-steel auto body that weighs 30 per cent less than before and is made of extremely advanced grades of steel. The research team even went so far as to redesign certain car parts so that they could be made with fewer materials. This breakthrough could go a long way in steel continuing to be used for auto bodies, especially as it helps both with fuel economy and makes it carry less weight around.
Companies Like Bentley are Innovating Their Cars’ Exteriors, Too
If you want to be an auto body repair technician, you have to stay on top of auto body trends, inside and out. The new Bentley EXP 100 GT concept car is a great example of this, with not only its interior components being highly impressive (an autonomous driving option, a zero-emission powertrain, easily configurable seating, etc.), but its exterior also displaying some striking features.
The body is made of both aluminum and carbon fibre, which makes this car relatively lightweight at 4,189 pounds. Another standout is its large mesh grille on the front, with 6,000 LED lights adorning it. Not only is it a remarkable component for aesthetic reasons, it can also be used as a form of communication. Graphics or text can be displayed via the lights, which can notify other drivers and pedestrians that the car is being piloted autonomously. It’s just another example of how much vehicle exteriors are being changed by groundbreaking technology.
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