Ford is always the religion when it comes to lightening its vehicles. The company has signed a new partnership with Dow Chemical to develop carbon fiber that can be produced at affordable prices for high volume applications. This, of course, is the holy grail of weight reduction, which is why other manufacturers like General Motors are also working with suppliers to try to achieve the same objectives.
Now, before you get too excited about the Mustang carbon fiber in the photos, realize that it was only a limited production car shown at SEMA in 2009, and carried a price of $ 135,000. This is the problem with carbon fiber parts – are expensive because they are much more difficult to produce in volume compared to steel.
But if Ford and other automobile manufacturers are to achieve the types of improving the fuel economy required by the new regulations, which are going to have to resize or carbon fiber drastically reduce the size of most vehicles. Ford says it is targeting a 750-pound weight reduction per vehicle by the end of the decade.
Scroll down to read the full press release. Weight reductions of up to 750 pounds for future Ford vehicles are the key to fuel economy and meeting objectives range of electric vehicles
Ford and Dow engineers and researchers want to combine efforts to develop low cost carbon fiber production process and component level
DEARBORN, Mich., April 12, 2012 -. Reducing the weight of new cars and trucks up to 750 pounds by the end of the decade is a key component of Ford’s strategy to improve fuel efficiency. To help achieve this goal, Ford Motor Company is working with Dow Automotive Systems, a business unit of The Dow Chemical Company, to research the use of advanced composite materials, carbon fiber high-volume vehicles.
“There are two ways to reduce the energy consumption of vehicles: improving the efficiency of converting fuel to motion and reducing the amount of work that engines need to do,” said Paul mascara, Ford Chief Technical Officer and Vice President, Research and Innovation. “Ford is facing the problem of conversion in the first place through the EcoBoost engine downsizing ® and electrification, while mass reduction and improved aerodynamics are the keys to reducing the workload.”
Ford is investigating a series of new materials, advanced design processes and new manufacturing techniques that allow automotive structures to meet the stringent safety and quality standards increasingly reducing the weight.
“Reducing the weight of the vehicle for our customers through intelligent design materials with a particular attention has been a priority for Dow Automotive Systems,” said Florian Thin Man, Director of Research and Development for Dow Automotive Systems. “This partnership with Ford on the carbon fiber composite is a logical next step to progress already achieved through the use of lightweight, high strength polymers and structural bonding technology.”
Carbon fiber composites have been used in aerospace vehicles and ran for decades for their unique combination of high strength and low mass. Until recently, these materials were too expensive for use in high-volume mainstream applications.
Dow Automotive Systems and Ford signed a joint development agreement that will see researchers from the two companies collaborate on various fronts. The development team wants to focus on establishing an economic source of self-grade production of carbon fiber components and develop methods for high-volume automotive applications.
The partnership will combine the best capabilities of Ford and experience in the design, engineering and high volume production of vehicles with strengths Dow Automotive R & D, materials science and high-volume processing of polymers.
“Reducing the weight will benefit the efficiency of any Ford vehicle,” he added mascara. “However, it is essential to improve the particular range of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and battery.”
The joint development effort will leverage the work that The Dow Chemical Company has already begun through partnerships with Turkish manufacturer AKSA carbon fiber and the U.S. Department of Energy Oak Ridge National Laboratory.