James Truskin
About: James Truskin - Technical Fellow for Body-In-White

In advance of the 6th Global Automotive Lightweight Materials Detroit 2017 conference, James Truskin, Technical Fellow for Body-In-White, FCA US LLC provides an insight into his thoughts about the conference and presentation:

1. Please can you give us a little background about yourself and your current role?
I’ve been working in the automotive industry since before I graduated, with a specialization in lightweight materials, body structures development and optimization.

In my current role, I have had the opportunity to work across all of FCAs vehicle programs, and support the advanced development and production teams to achieve their component and system-level targets. I have the exciting responsibility for identifying, developing and implementing new tools and methodologies that improve FCA’s engineering efficiency, and the performance of the body structure system.

2. What is the most interesting project you’ve worked on?
The All-New Chrysler Pacifica minivan that we launched in 2016 is the most interesting project I have worked on for several reasons. Firstly, a minivan has so many customer-driven attributes like sliding doors, storage and payload requirements that place a big challenge on the structural engineering team to optimize the loadpaths, sections and joints stiffnesses around these other monuments. On the Pacifica, we developed a new Body in White (BIW) development process that helped us identify and assess the optimum loadpath for the given packaging and vehicle requirements, then analyze and refine the section sizes and material strategy, and look at different joint constructions to give us the most efficient design solution to meet the Body structure objectives. We implemented a significantly higher amount of Advanced and Ultra High strength steels to improve the Safety performance of the vehicle. The team was committed to optimizing the design and ran several optimization loops throughout the program timeline to help us maximize weight savings without compromising performance.

The Pacifica Body structure was the pioneer many of our advanced BIW design and optimization processes that are now applied as a standard process on new vehicle programs.

3. What automotive trends in your opinion are shaping the industry?
In my opinion and from a Body design perspective, one of the key trends in the automotive industry is the need to integrate different materials into the body to balance, weight, performance, cost and manufacturing process requirements. This is driving the development of new joining, design and manufacturing processes to facilitate multi-material integration, especially for higher volume vehicles.

4. What materials and technologies do you see having the most potential in delivering cost efficient automotive lightweighting?
The recent progress made in high strength steel has been significant to driving cost-effective lightweighting solutions. It has allowed a more weight-efficient execution of structures that are critical to improving safety and protecting the occupants in impact events. The improved formability of these newer grades has been important to ensuring they that can be integrated efficiently into a structural component.

I believe Aluminum will also continue to have a place in the industry, especially for larger exterior panels, where the properties of Aluminum offer great benefits to achieve significant mass reduction and achieve performance targets.

I am interested to see how far the cost of carbon fiber can be reduced in the next 5-10 years, which would help it become a more cost-efficient solution for automotive applications.

5. What car/motor vehicle do you drive?
I currently drive a Chrysler 200 and we have a Chrysler Town & Country minivan for running around the 4 children, sports gear, luggage, furniture, our camper – all kinds of things! There are so many uses for that vehicle and we would struggle without it.

6. Without revealing the full details of your full presentation, with 50-100words can you describe your presentation and how it will help your fellow colleagues?
The presentation is an overview of some fundamental structural concepts that are important to consider for BIW design (loadpaths, sections and joints), and some tools and processes to optimize system and component design. The presentation should provide some relevant background on the science and engineering that goes into a body structure.

At the 6th Global Automotive Lightweight Materials Detroit Summitin August, James will be a panelist on our exclusive session on OEM Material Strategies. For more information, visit: http://www.global-automotive-lightweight-materials-detroit.com/