Challenges for modelling and integrating environmental performances in concept design: the case of an automotive component lightweighting
The objective of this paper is to discuss the main barriers for modelling and integrating the environmental performances in the automotive concept design. Incorporating environmental assessment in the early design phase of a vehicle component is known as an important challenge that car makers need to face in order to develop more sustainable design solutions; in this regard, the Life Cycle Assessment is the most widespread methodology for the environmental assessment and comparison of alternatives. The present work illustrates the combination of such methodology with the traditional design procedure at two different levels of the component design phase, material choice and concept design. In particular, the potential benefits originated by a lightweight solution for the automotive component Throttle Body are evaluated by considering environmental and technical implications at the same level. The case study shows that a multi-disciplinary approach for design effectively allows the integration of the environmental issue in the company’s established procedures. However, interpretation of results is still a challenging aspect due to the inevitable contradicting elements which should not discourage to develop comprehensive sustainability assessment within the early design stage.