Chris Theodore Unveils Lightweight Chassis at SAE

Chris Theodore has been working on a lightweight chassis that reduces manufacturing costs, cuts weight and makes electric vehicles increase their mileage.

The chassis will work on all sorts of vehicles and Theodore plans to unveil his creation this week at the SAE World Congress. The manufacturer is well known in the automotive industry thanks to its involvement in the creation of the Ford GT and the Dodge Viper.

With the go ahead from Ford, he got permission to use for his chassis the powertrain and suspension from a Ford GT model. Theodore explains that his lightweight chassis is brilliant by design due to its concept that connects front and rear powertrain and suspension components to a rigid backbone. Most vehicles use designs for their chassis like body-on-frame construction.

Theodore seeks for feedback at the SAE World Congress, especially from manufacturers that are involved in specialty vehicles, plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles, and battery-electric vehicles. According to Jay Baron, CEO of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the chassis success will be directly related to its production cost.

The cost is critical. The design looks expensive and its success will be highly cost dependent," Baron states. "The design is clearly aimed at high-end vehicles, and not mass-produced mainstream vehicles," he adds.

The chassis features some innovative and smart design solutions like the backbone that has the capability to house the battery itself. As a result of this technical solution, weight has been saved and therefore fuel efficiency has been increased.

"Efficiency is always important on hybrid-electric and battery-electric vehicles because the batteries are so expensive and heavy," he said. "If it can be weight-efficient with a structure like Uni-Chassis, then that makes the business case more palatable," adds Theodore.

Another technical aspect of his lightweight chassis is the possibility of the interchangeable bodies and powertrains to be fitted on the same chassis. As a consequence to this, a whole range of different models can be designed using the same chassis and all this is possible by extending the backbone.

Theodore explains: "A big advantage was keeping the investment low and being able to design a chassis to serve multiple masters. Here you have a fully supporting chassis that has the powertrain and everything else, and you can do custom bodies or multiple bodies on the same chassis."
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