Swedish truck and bus maker Scania hopes to make a 40 per cent weight reduction by using a carbon fibre composite in chassis construction.

According to Scania and research by the KTH Institute of Technology in Stockholm, composites will play an increasing role in heavy vehicles in the future.

New lightweight materials such as composites will play an increasingly large role in the heavy vehicles of tomorrow, particularly in distribution trucks and city buses, according to Scania.

Researcher Magnus Burman said there are significant gains to be made in load bearing parts of trucks and buses, particularly for electric vehicles.

“Our studies show that weight savings of up to 40 percent can be achieved if key load-bearing parts are replaced with lighter materials,” Burman said.

“Distribution trucks often carry bulky goods, so the weight savings are not that great, but an electrified truck’s range is highly dependent on the vehicle’s weight. Halving the weight here means doubling the range per load.”

Despite a higher purchase price of composite materials, the lifetime cost is lower because its durable nature.

“On top of the low weight, composite materials provide strength and rigidity, while fatigue and ageing aren’t generally seen as problems. Composites also don’t rust, and they don’t degrade in the same way as metal structures,” Burman said.

“Tomorrow’s vehicles will be made from a bigger mix of materials, with a focus on both function and weight. This creates completely new opportunities and possibilities in the design process, construction and production.

Scania has a vision for an integrated lightweight chassis made from carbon fibre composite-material and adapted for use in a long-range, completely electric vehicle.