This month, Magna collected three first-place awards at the 2018 Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) Automotive Awards gala in Dusseldorf, Germany. In recognition of its innovative lightweighting efforts enabled by advanced materials, Magna’s thermoplastic liftgate for the 2019 Jeep Cherokee won the body exterior category; its carbon fiber subframe prototype won the chassis category; and its torsional welding joining process won in the enabling technology category.

Lightweight, fully recyclable, composite liftgates, like those found on all 2019 Jeep Cherokees, are particularly beneficial as demand for crossover and sport utility vehicles remains high globally. These liftgate modules achieve up to 25 percent mass savings over steel versions and are delivered as complete assemblies to the customer. Composite materials allow for greater design flexibility with deeper draws and tighter radii. Additional benefits of Magna’s full-system assembly and delivery approach include reduced complexity of the total liftgate module, lower tooling investment and increased throughput at the assembly plant.

The carbon fiber subframe, which also won the Infinite Possible for Market Growth Award at CAMX 2017, is the result of an ongoing joint R&D project with Ford Motor Company. The prototype subframe achieves an 82 percent part reduction by replacing 45 steel parts with two molded parts and six steel parts, as well as a 34 percent mass savings compared to a subframe made of stamped steel. Vehicle-level testing is currently underway.

Torsional welding joins plastic brackets to thermoplastic fascia with a high-speed twisting motion that creates enough friction-based heat to meld them together. Working with a technology partner, Magna became the first to use torsional welding for automotive fascia. The process is currently used for the front fascia of the 2017 Skoda Octavia in Europe, and there are plans to use it soon in the North American market.

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