Thin Is In Under the Hood

Gary S. Vasilash


Unless you’re a powertrain engineer or someone who is working on vehicle packaging, chances are you don’t think a whole lot about radiators, especially as they’ve been around a long, long time (attributed to Karl Benz, 1844-1929—yes, “Benz” as in “Mercedes”).

But regardless, chances are you’ll find this to be somewhat remarkable: Denso Corp. has developed a radiator that is 40% smaller and lighter than its own previous comparable model. Whereas the other one is 27-mm wide, this new one—which is being used in the new Lexus GS—is just 16-mm wide. What’s more, it is more efficient due to a modified fin design, a 10% improvement in heat radiation.

Denso radiator

Said Akio Shikamura, senior executive director of Denso’s Thermal Systems Business Group, “The radiator’s reduced size translates into greater design flexibility for installation in the engine compartment. This also helps make the vehicle safer in the event of a frontal collision because the reduced size allows for a larger impact or crash zone.”

In addition to which, the new radiator is “greener,” too. Shikamura: “The radiator’s tank is made of a plant-derived resin, which Denso has been mass producing since 2009, making the radiator greener and environmentally cleaner than traditional radiators.”

All of which goes to show you that even if you think that something that has been around for decades has probably been optimized, there may still be a whole lot more room for improvement.