To borrow an expression from George W. Bush, "it's hard work" making a vehicle.
Fuel-economy and safety standards continue to get tougher, while expectations for vehicles to feature cutting-edge technology and connectivity continue to get higher.
That's driving the industry's quest to find and develop lighter-weight materials that improve fuel efficiency and safety. And it's the inspiration behind the Altair Enlighten Award.
Unveiled at the Center for Automotive Research's Management Briefing Seminars earlier this month, the award will honor OEMs and suppliers for innovation in vehicle lightweighting.
The award, which is a joint initiative of the Center for Automotive Research and Troy, Mich.-based engineering-software maker Altair, is the first of its kind, explained Tony Norton, senior director of global automotive for Altair.
The award will recognize lightweighting achievements across the auto industry, from motorcycles to passenger cars and light trucks to commercial vehicles, he noted.
"It doesn't favor a particular material or a particular method," Norton told attendees of the Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Mich. "In fact, it encourages the use of mixed materials and innovation to create new methods."
One goal of the award is to raise public awareness of "the technical depth, diversity and environmental impact of lightweighting," Norton said.
Other objectives are to spur competition for new ideas within the auto industry, and to provide an incentive for OEMs and suppliers to share technological advances.
A nomination form will be available on the Altair Enlighten website by Oct. 1.
Altair and CAR will announce the inaugural award-winners in August 2013, Norton said.