The 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL550 is loaded with new aluminum
underpinnings that help shave 242 pounds from its chassis. And while large
bits like the engine bulkhead-- the single biggest piece of die-cast aluminum in
the production auto biz-- certainly play their part in weight savings, there are
loads of other unsung details, as well.
Take the SL's floorboard. Replacing the simple steel sheet
found in its predecessor, the new application uses a thin-wall, double-plated
hollow profile aluminum fused using a technique. Not only
is it lighter and stiffer than before, the structure incorporates varying wall
thickness which enables stronger construction where necessary, while maximizing
weight savings where it counts.
Combined with one-piece carpeting and thicker foam backing
for improved road noise insulation, Benz's new floorboard design is a structural
element unlikely to get much attention. But it's just as deserving as the rest of
this two-seater's unseen efforts to create a lighter, nimbler, and more fuel