The aluminium chassis provides the best of both worlds when it relates to chassis design and manufacturing. A
chassis, being the frame of the vehicle has to be rigid or strong to absorb and retain movements and vibrations from
the engine, suspension and axles. It should also be as light as possible to
improve the vehicle's performance and fuel efficiency.
A lightweight chassis results in a safer car as the weight the vehicle has to move around is
less the easier it can be controlled. It also assists the vehicle in having a better power to weight
ratio as a fully aluminium chassis can slash several hundred lbs off the weight of the vehicle. In
fact an aluminium chassis is more than 50% lighter than a steel chassis.
The chassis does not only mean the frame itself. Other parts of some high end vehicles where
aluminium makes an appearance is the front and rear axles and suspension components. Any part or sub
frame that connects to the suspension, steering and brakes is in many cases considered to be part of
the chassis and will be considered a lightweight chassis if aluminium is used on these parts.
Aluminium provides both strength and lightweight properties. The drawback is their cost and
that additional cost contributes to the overall cost of the vehicle but high end vehicle buyers
are usually willing to pay the increased overall cost if their preference is performance and above
average driving dynamics.
Pure aluminium weighs around one third the weight of steel but pure aluminium is not always used for
chassis components. In many instances an aluminium alloy is used allowing different parts of the frame
to be stiffer than others depending on the percentage of the mixture of the materials.
The aluminium chassis have moved away from the traditional chassis, the passenger safety cage
is sometimes integrated into the frame with stronger and/or stiffer alloys being used on certain parts
such as the b-pillars to add more rigidity or to enhance safety.
The 2010 Jaguar XJ has most of its monocoque chassis
and body panels made out of aluminium and an aluminium space frame has been used in all generations of the
Audi A8. The current Rolls Royce Phantom also uses an aluminium space frame.
The design of a chassis can also affect factors such as the
center of gravity, better weight distribution and other performance attributes. The design and
dimensions of the chassis determines the wheelbase of the vehicle
and possibly the track (the distance between the center of the left and right wheel) for increased
All of the above factors that the chassis contributes to indicates that the chassis forms an integral
part of a vehicle's platform. These factors and benefits can be incorporated
when using a lightweight chassis.