What Is the Vehicle of the Future Made Of?

Image courtesy of FCA/Stellantis (Dodge Charger repair manual)

The question is often asked, what material will be used in the car of the future? Should we concentrate on learning how to repair steel, aluminum, magnesium, or carbon fiber? For that answer, we need to look at present-day vehicles for some clues.

The most likely answer will be a mixed material vehicle (MMV). To repair vehicles both today and tomorrow, knowledge of all of the materials mentioned above will be required. The Jaguar F-Pace is a perfect example of why a repairer would need mixed material vehicle knowledge. On September 14, 2015, Automotive News published an article on Jaguar, Joining Key Segment, Prices F-Pace Crossover From $43,385. According to the article, "In conjunction with the brand's Lightweight Aluminum Architecture, new features such as the composite tailgate, magnesium cross-car beam and front-end carrier contribute to its outstanding driving dynamics. Advanced high strength steels in areas such as the rear floor, are joined using more than 2,600 self-piercing rivets, 238.8-ft (72.8 m) of structural adhesive and more than 560 spot-welds."

Many repairers may never see the F-Pace roll into their facility, but what about a Cadillac CT6? Per the Cadillac press release on March 13, 2015, Cadillac CT6 Elevates the Science of Mass Efficiency:

  • "High-strength steel is used strategically to reinforce the body structure, and is also used in conjunction with high-strength aluminum to create a safety cage surrounding the occupants.
  • The structural portion of the B-pillar is constructed completely of high-strength steel, which was chosen to aid vehicle ingress, egress and visibility, in addition to mass savings and added cabin quietness.
  • A high-strength aluminum impact bar was added to the rear of the vehicle, and a combination of high-strength aluminum and steel was used for front and side impact zones to further increase passenger safety in the event of collisions.
  • A combination of aluminum spot welds, steel spot welds, flow drill screws, self-piercing rivets, laser welding, aluminum arc welding and hundreds of feet of structural adhesive are all used in assembling the body of the CT6."

Both the F-Pace and the Cadillac CT6 are new models that haven't been released yet. So let's look at the 2011 - 2015 Dodge Charger. The Charger will be entering its 6th year of production and it has composite reinforcements on the upper A-pillar and upper B-pillar.

The materials of the future are already appearing today in the ever growing form of a mixed material vehicle.

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