16.11.1998

MULTIPLA: THE "SPACE FRAME"


The Fiat Multipla is also an innovative model in terms of its manufacture. It is not produced using a normal load-bearing body but using a structure known as a Space Frame. This means that the body panels are applied to a car skeleton made up of welded steel sections. This engineering choice offers important advantages:

High rigidity. The use of high-resistance and various thickness steel sections (which can now be produced using new technologies) makes it possible for each component to be made rigid enough without affecting overall vehicle weight. The car's level of torsional and flexural rigidity is therefore increased.

Excellent resistance to impact. Because the Fiat Multipla floorpan is made out of low, straight rails, the force of frontal impact is discharged downward and does not deform the passenger compartment cell. Overall, car safety is therefore increased. The Space Frame also makes it easier to differentiate between car structures more easily and add extra strength where it is needed.

More effective use of available space. The Fiat Multipla car is built around its passengers and their requirements. For this reason, the car's designers adopted a solution that prioritises passenger space: a flat floorpan. All bulky items are positioned beneath the car and the seats may therefore be positioned in the most user-friendly positions.

Appearance. This engineering solution gives the Fiat Multipla its highly original line. One of the sections making up the Space Frame is visible at the top of the car, where it becomes an unmistakable styling element.

Flexibility. The Space Frame allows greater design flexibility. Body changes can be achieved by adjusting only the affected area. This structure also makes it easier to produce derivative vehicles.

Lower industrialisation costs. Sections are machined in special machines known as rollers that bend the sections into the required shape. This technology is sophisticated but relatively low-cost. Because the frame is made up of all these elements, the number of pressed parts can be reduced. Fewer moulds means lower investments.

Environment. The Space Frame also offers environmental benefits because it reduces panel wastage.

Our decision to use a Space Frame for a standard production model meant a new engineering and design approach. The engineers had to do plenty of work on the welding of body 'nodes', which must ensure the greatest possible rigidity and resistance to wear. Great care was also taken to ensure that this system of joined-then-assembled sections guarantees the same tolerances as a conventional pressed part.


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