The 2021 Motor Bella Neé Detroit Auto Show Goes Full Wet Blanket

October 4, 2021 – The Detroit Auto Show moves outdoors, trading January snowstorms for September thunderstorms. Are auto shows dead? For news-making, the comeback-train 2021 Chicago Show was largely a bust and reviews have been mixed on the Frankfurt Show (IAA), relocated to Munich this year. But the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS, aka Detroit Auto Show) is definitely dead as we knew it. In its place is Motor Bella, an outdoor new-car buyers’ tire-kicking extravaganza staged at the M1 Concourse “car country-club” in nearby Pontiac Michigan, amped up with ride and drive opportunities and other user experiences.

Motor Bella Tech: Tesseract Aluminum Foam

Fayetteville, Arkansas-based Tesseract Structural Innovations showed off a Uniform Deceleration Unit (UDU), comprised of aluminum foam. The foam is produced by blowing air bubbles up into a sheet of molten aluminum seeded with nanoparticles that help keep the air from bubbling out of the aluminum. The lightweight foam blocks are comprised of 15 percent aluminum/85 percent air and can absorb more crash energy in a shorter package than can hollow steel or aluminum structural rails. This will be increasingly important as large, bulky engines give way to compact electric motors, eliminating an impact load path and shrinking vehicle front ends. By incorporating hollow cylinders or placing foam blocks inside rectangular section steel channels, the material can be tuned for greater strength in one direction or another, and by compounding various different blocks, various crash absorption strategies can be achieved. The material can be tuned to absorb 70-140,000 pounds of force before collapsing all the air voids. UDU blocks can improve real-world small-overlap impact survivability. When a late swerve results in an oblique angle impact that might bend a traditional crash rail out of the way, a Tesseract aluminum foam rail can absorb oblique angle impacts. Read the full story at