A successful design approach and procedures for Ford’s Aluminum Intensive Vehicle (AIV) build and evaluation with emphasis on crashworthiness and front end design are described. Several issues and concerns related to design and assembly of all-aluminum body structure such as material selection, joining techniques, crush behavior and structural integrity were addressed and resolved. An experimental and analytical approach was adopted to investigate the static and dynamic behavior of spot-welded and weld-bonded aluminum crush members. Design and analyses tools for establishing target component forces, assessing energy absorption and stability of collapse of the front end structure are also presented. Sections, components and sub-system analyses were conducted to establish the AIV target forces, energy levels and collapse modes. Extensive testing on generic section columns and production component and sub-systems were also performed. This helped in addressing critical issues associated with the introduction of all aluminum body structure into high volume production. Other tests were also conducted for design verification.
Aluminum alloys AA5XXX and AA6XXX-T4 were used for the structural components of the AIV. AA5XXX was used for the front end frame and a mix of AA5XXX/AA6XXX was used for the roof structure. Doors and hoods utilized AA6XXX-T4 alloy for their construction. It was demonstrated that the all-aluminum body structure can achieve equivalent crashworthiness performance as its steel counterpart with a weight saving of 30%. The all-aluminum vehicles were tested in frontal and rear crash, roof crush, side intrusions in side impact and all met or exceeded the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) requirements.