Ultra-light Car Bodies (UlCab)

Lead Participant: PAB Coventry Limited


The aim of this project is for a consortium of industry leaders, Lotus Cars, Innoval, PAB Coventry, Impression Technology and Imperial College to develop an enabling technology for significant reduction in carbon emissions from automobiles and therefore help preserve a healthy world environment through pollution reduction. There are two major ways this can be achieved; through making engines and power trains more efficient and therefore transforming a greater proportion of fuel into motive power and by reducing the weight of cars and thus reducing the amount of fuel necessary in normal driving situations. This project is focusing on the second option around body structures as these account for about 30% of overall car weight. The aim is to establish a proven manufacturing route for the manufacture of one-piece aluminium alloy sheet metal components that will be a cost-effective substitute for current steel parts. Several manufacturers are already using aluminium alloy parts in their car bodies, but these cannot substitute directly for steel and are usually made of several relatively simple shapes attached to each other, which makes them expensive and does not achieve the weight reduction inherent with aluminium . Two techniques will be cominbed in one process; tailor-welded blanks and HFQ (a newly patened hot forming process for enhancing the formability of aluminium alloy) This combination of two novel forming techniques new to aluminium alloy manufacture will enable sophisticated one-piece parts to be made, which are ecomomically viable,eventually for all classes of car and achieve the ulitmate in weight saving of 50 to 60%, compared with steel designs.

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

PAB Coventry Limited, Canley £225,071 £ 130,091


Impression Technologies Limited, Knightsbridge £159,560 £ 92,225
Lotus Cars Limited, NORWICH £313,340 £ 156,670
Imperial College London, United Kingdom £300,398 £ 300,398
Innoval Technology Limited, Sheffield £110,088 £ 55,044


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