Magnesium-body car under development

Magnesium has become a serious alternative to materials such as steel and aluminium for car body structures, say research and development engineers at Wagon Automotive’s facility at Waldaschaff in Germany.

Components made out of magnesium weigh about a third as much as similar parts in steel. But difficulties in working with the material, and in welding it, have prevented manufacturers taking advantage of the potential weight savings.

Engineers at Wagon, however, claim to have overcome these obstacles to the manufacture of magnesium-based components for automotive applications.

So far, the company has refused to reveal details, but promises to do so later this year.

Axel Schulmeyer, central Europe managing director of Wagon said: `All companies hope to capitalise on the benefits lower weight can offer in terms of fuel consumption and performance.’

Given magnesium’s flammability, processes using the metal must take place in an inert atmosphere, and equipment must be specially designed.

Extensive prototyping work has been carried out by Wagon at its Waldaschaff technical centre. The company is talking to several car makers about magnesium-based projects, Schulmeyer said.

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