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Maserati, Airbus partnering

by David Zatz on

Australian source Motoring wrote that Maserati will partner with plane maker Airbus for research and development, applying aeronautic technologies to cars. (Thanks, Leo Gali.)

Chrysler, Saab, and Rolls-Royce, among others, were all involved in both automotive and aeronautical work, with varying degrees of success in merging the two disciplines. At Chrysler, incoming aeronautical engineers spurred a great deal of innovation when their space program was phased out.

maserati-airbus

The agreement between the two companies gives Maserati access to Airbus’ research and development center, which could yield state of the art materials for the loosely-Chrysler-based sport-luxury cars.  Maserati was languishing until recently, when it started making the new Quattroporte and Ghibli, which tripled its sales; a Levante crossover/tall wagon is next, based on the same basic platform and architecture, followed by the small, low-volume reputation-boosting Alfieri.

From Ford’s use of aluminum, likely spurred by its then-CEO’s background at Boeing, to Audi’s use of, well, aluminum, to Alfa Romeo’s resin-testing 4C, automakers are looking into strong but light materials to reduce weight, thereby increasing performance and/or economy.   The agreement includes metals and composites, systems integration, and production processes.

One possible material, according to “Medicin-Man,” is GLARE, a material used on the Airbus A380 super-jumbo-jet (GLARE stands for “Glass Laminate Aluminium Reinforced Epoxy.”) This has thin layers of aluminum and glass fiber bonded together; it is designed to face stress in one direction. It has high fire and corrosion resistance, good damage tolerance, and resists to metal fatigue. The material itself is more expensive than aluminum, but when designed properly, it may be cheaper when all is considered.

Any applications of lightweight materials by high-end Fiat brands is likely to find its way into the Chrysler portfolio at some point or another.

David Zatz founded Allpar in 1998 (based on a site he had begun in 1993-94), after years of writing reviews for retail trades. He has been quoted by the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Detroit News, and USA Today. Before making Allpar a full-time career, he was a consultant in organizational psychology. You can reach him by using our contact form (much preferred) or by calling (313) 766-2304

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