Honda Changing Construction Methods To Shed Pounds

Honda N Box

Honda N Box

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Although much of today’s work is done via robots, and more contemporary materials are used in construction, the basic process of building an automobile hasn’t changed significantly over the past 100 years.

Most automakers still bolt many of their steel outer panels to a steel body, much the same way as they have since the 1920s.

Such construction techniques yield cars that are relatively easy to fix in the aftermath of a collision, but at the expense of being heavier and utilizing more components than they otherwise need to.

Honda is looking to break out of this mold, and will begin revamping production lines used to build small vehicles in Japan and in its overseas plants.

Instead of relying on traditional “bolt on” construction, Honda will begin welding outer panels to the frame of vehicles built on these updated production lines.

First up is the Honda N Box, a newly-launched mini-crossover that’s aimed at both the Japanese domestic market and emerging markets alike. Changing its construction technique allowed Honda to reduce production costs while shaving some 10 percent off the vehicle’s weight.

Every ounce of weight saved helps reduce fuel consumption, which is important in almost every global market these days.

As Reuters points out, the cost savings will also help Honda to be more competitive in emerging markets, something the automaker sees as a top priority to ensure continued growth.


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Comments (6)
  1. My vote:
    Aircraft grade velcro for exterior panels.
    Sure it might not be as good as rivets but it would be much easier for the owner to replace.
    Think of the market ultra-lightweight carbon panels and easy customization as people swap panels out like so many Nokia cell phone covers.
    All we'd need would be safety standardization from the NTSB and IIHS.

  2. @Ed, the next big step will probably be adhesives, which are already used extensively in the aerospace industry. As materials get more exotic (i.e., carbon composites, aluminum alloys, etc.), bonding will be the most practical way to join panels.

  3. Cheaper to build, but far more expensive to fix after collisions and fender benders. Oops.

  4. I wonder how many squeaks and odd noises this will introduce after it's gone through a couple of winters in the snow belt states? If potholes can blow a tire it sure can fatigue a weld.

  5. Probably no welds will be damaged. They are holding the cars together with screws today, surely that is a more questionable method than welding.

    Besides, testing has surely be done in any case.

  6. This seems like an obvious next step. Find places to save weight and go after them.

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