Vehicle Lightweighting as a Strategy for Economic Development and Competitive Advantage in India

March 02, 2010
Charles Fine, Sloan School of Management

Steel has been the material of choice for many automotive components since the dawn of the automotive age.  Automotive supply chains are heavily reliant upon steel and the inertial motion of steel as the dominant material is strong.  We argue that a change to lightweight materials-intensive vehicle development could bring significant environmental benefits, but that established automotive supply chains cannot easily overcome the inertial force of steel.  In India, however, where a large automotive industry is in its nascent stage, an early push to develop “ultra-lightweight” vehicle supply chains may be possible since the sunk investment in steel is relatively limited compared with the eventual expected size of the industry.  Advances in lightweight vehicle technologies may also offer the Indian automotive industry opportunities to export vehicles to other regions that are too heavily invested in steel to compete in the production of affordable light weight designs. We will discuss an industry roadmapping approach to help the Indian auto industry build an alternative materials automotive supply chain and some of the technical options for materials choice and manufacturing.

See a copy of Prof. Fine’s presentation or watch the video below.