The future is big
Mobility is a key factor for enabling economic exchange, employment and prosperity in our society. At the same time, however, the global transport system is partly responsible for environmental pollution, even if some forms of transportation have become significantly cleaner and quieter. How can we make sure people and goods can keep moving without damaging the environment in the long term? This question is at the heart of sustainable mobility. The automotive industry in particular is working on new solutions.
Facts about sustainable mobility
By 2030, passenger traffic will exceed 80’000 billion passenger-kilometers – a 50% increase – and freight volume will grow by 70% globally.
Around 81 million light vehicles were sold worldwide in 2021. Light vehicles include passenger cars and light commercial vehicles up to a weight of 6 tonnes.
Globally, the number of vehicles on the road is expected to double by 2050.
It is estimated that around two-thirds of global car sales will be electric by 2040.
Sources: World Bank, Statista, Bloomberg, LMC Automotive
A strong development partnership
GF Casting Solutions and BMW
Climate change is a major challenge worldwide – that is why empowering our customers with solutions for sustainable mobility is at the heart of our strategic targets. The R&D departments of GF Casting Solutions and Germany's BMW Group are working closely together to create new approaches for the efficient production of light car bodies.
15 November 2022 was a historic day. Since then, according to the United Nations, more than 8 billion people live on our planet. And the more of us there are, the more we move around, be it by car, by train or by airplane.
The need for lower-emission and more environmentally friendly vehicles is posing significant challenges for manufacturers. One such challenge is the weight of car bodies. In the past, companies typically assembled individual parts to build the car bodies, but the body of the future will consist of fewer and larger structural components – referred to as Big Castings. GF Casting Solutions is working with its customers to develop components that are light, combine as many functions as possible and can be manufactured in just one shot on existing high-pressure-die-casting machines, increasing efficiency all around. An additional investment in new equipment is not necessary and therefore resource saving.
How can we make mobility more sustainable?
Together with the German premium manufacturer BMW, GF Casting Solutions is developing a crash-relevant Big Casting for a vehicle that will be launched in the near future. The two partners have been working closely together for years to ensure that GF Casting Solutions can produce particularly light and strong parts for new BMW vehicles. The collaboration includes part design and simulation, tool development and production, and tests and validation of the cast parts. For GF and BMW, the reusability of the material in the process chain is important: the recyclability of the aluminum for circulating material, gating systems and scrap is 100%. In the past, for similar vehicle types, multiple single components had to be cast and assembled to produce one part. Now, GF Casting Solutions produces just one Big Casting. Big Castings require fewer individual tools and fewer joints. They lower susceptibility to defects and reduce waste, which in turn saves resources and energy. "When vehicle manufacturers assemble a complete front or rear car in the form of a Big Casting, they save a lot of time," says Frank Gensty, Chief Technology Officer at GF Casting Solutions. "A manufacturer can produce a new typical mid-size vehicle in 10 hours instead of 25." Thanks to strategic development partnerships like the one between GF and BMW, Big Castings can equal big results.
GF expert’s view
What advantages does GF bring to the development and production of Big Castings?
Our unique selling point is our globally networked R&D capability with a strong focus on part simulation. We also operate our own tool shops at our sites in Germany and in China. In addition, we can check the quality of our components in our own DIN-certified validation department.
How is GF's R&D contributing to the BMW project's success?
Our strategic development partnership started at the earliest possible stage and covers all key steps in the value chain. This enabled us to understand BMW's needs for the new vehicle and the production process at an early stage and to take appropriate measures. From part design and simulation to the development and production of the die-casting tool, we accompanied the casting trials at the BMW Group facilities and at our production site. We also tested the first cast parts at our own, accredited testing and validation lab in Schaffhausen.
Why is collaboration with the customer so important in the early stages of development?
The earlier we get involved, the more opportunities we have to think outside the box. This enables us to find solutions for integrating the component optimally into the body, which in turn saves the customer time and energy during assembly. Basically, we're not only interested in what the lightweight part will look like in the end, but also how it can be manufactured in an energy-efficient and assembly-friendly way.
"GF Casting Solutions is one of our important partners in product and process development. Together, we rethink components and production processes to become more efficient and sustainable."
Frank Wimmer, Senior Manager Purchasing Light Metal Casting Structure Components at BMW Group
Part supply as local as possible and without long transport routes
GF sees strong development partnerships as the foundation for the successful development and production of Big Castings – especially with regard to the reduction of weight and assembly steps, material and time savings, as well as quality improvement and logistics. GF Casting Solutions operates lightweight die-casting sites in Suzhou and Shenyang (both in China), Altenmarkt and Herzogenburg (both in Austria), as well as Pitești and Scornicești (both in Romania) and has a collaboration with Bocar Group in North America in order to be able to supply parts as locally as possible and without long transport routes.
Co-developing lightweight components: How does the collaboration work?
Before a new car is launched on the market, a complex development process takes place in which each single part is examined individually. GF supports its customers throughout the entire process, from the early development stages through to serial production. This infographic shows the individual steps in the casting design process and illustrates how closely GF collaborates with customers to ensure their specific requirements are met.
Get to know GF’s other activities in the sustainable mobility space
Our reality today has little to do with what we once thought the future would look like. While our cars remain on the ground rather than flying, the world is looking for technologies to replace fossil fuels and make mobility more environmentally friendly. GF Machining Solutions has therefore focused its R&D activities on providing the German automotive supplier Schaeffler solutions for their environmentally friendly automotive components.
Read about how GF is developing and producing innovative and sustainable mobility solutions.
The need for low-emission transportation is rising globally not only for passengers, but also for goods. The electrification of trucks and off-highway vehicles, such as bulldozers and carriers, has been underway for many years and construction equipment is following suit. The Volvo Group has unveiled what it claims is the world's first fossil-free steel vehicle and announced that more concept vehicles are on the way. One of these vehicles is the TA15. The battery-electric load carrier is a new machine concept, compared to traditional off-road transport. GF Casting Solutions supports Volvo Construction Equipment (CE) in the development and production of lightweight iron cast components.
Learn more about GF's solutions for off-highway vehicles.
Our contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Through its collaboration with BMW, GF Casting Solutions is contributing to the achievement of:
UN SDG 9
Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.
UN SDG 12
Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.
UN SDG 13
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
Learn more about GF and its contribution to the UN SDGs in the GF Sustainability Report.