R&D boss Dr Wolfgang Epple believes that there are lots of aspects of nature and non-automotive engineering that can be drawn upon for the development of more efficient structures. "Cars have been developed for just over 100 years, but nature has been evolving over millions of years," he says.
Epple cites the wall construction methods used on some centuries-old English buildings as an interesting structural study. The walls of these homes are constructed from wood, straw, mud and other materials, and have inspired investigations into reducing the mass of alloy engine blocks, which may eventually feature weight-saving voids of the sort found in these buildings.
Speaking at a media dinner, Epple said that his research and development team were also intrigued by the structure of trees, noting the substantial difference in weight carried by branches in summer when the tree has leafed, and in winter when it is bare.