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.