DLR (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft und Raumfahrt) has developed a concept for small vehicles as part of the Next Generation Car (NGC) project.

The Safe Light Regional Vehicle (SLRV) concept has a lightweight body built using a sandwich construction and DLR scientists are using crash tests to trial the lightweight body.

“With the SLRV, the focus is on building a very lightweight body in order to make driving as resource-efficient as possible,” said DLR group leader for Lightweight Vehicles and Road Vehicle Methods, Gerhard Kopp.

“At the same time, we want to offer a very high degree of passive safety, which is often insufficient for existing vehicles in the lightweight vehicle segment.”

With a range of around 400km based on compact electrical transmission powered by a fuel cell, the SLRV should serve primarily as a car for commuters.

The body of the two-seater SLRV is low and elongated in order to ensure as little aerodynamic resistance as possible and weighs around 80kg.

The sandwich material used comprises a metal top layer and a plastic foam interior. The front and rear parts of the SLRV are made of sandwich panels and serve as crash zones.

The passenger space consists of a shell with an attached ring structure. This absorbs the forces which act on the car while driving and should protect the occupants in the event of a crash says DLR.

“Structures made of sandwich materials have not been used in the series production of cars until now,” said DLR researcher, Michael Kriescher.

“There is a huge need for research to determine the behaviour of such structures and to find out how best to build them.

“The crucial thing is how sandwich structures behave when subjected to loads, right up to the extreme case of a crash.”