Ford Motor Company is partnering with Dow Automotive Systems, a business unit of The Dow Chemical Company, to research the use of advanced carbon fiber composites in high-volume vehicles.
Dow Automotive Systems and Ford have signed a joint development agreement that will see researchers from the two companies collaborate on several fronts. The development teams will focus on establishing an economical source of automotive-grade carbon fiber and develop component manufacturing methods for high-volume automotive applications.
The partnership will seek to combine the best of Ford’s capabilities and experience in design, engineering and high-volume vehicle production with Dow Automotive’s strengths in R&D, materials science and high-volume polymer processing.
Ford is investigating a range of new materials, enhanced design processes and new manufacturing techniques that would enable automotive structures to meet increasingly stringent safety and quality standards while cutting weight. Cutting the weight of new cars and trucks by up to 750 pounds (340 kg) by the end of the decade is a key component of Ford’s strategy to improve fuel efficiency.
Reducing weight will benefit the efficiency of every Ford vehicle. However, it’s particularly critical to improving the range of plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles.— Paul Mascarenas, Ford chief technical officer and vice president, Research and Innovation
Carbon fiber composites have been used in aerospace and racing cars for decades due to their unique combination of high strength and low mass. Until recently these materials have been far too costly for use in high-volume mainstream applications.
The joint development effort will also leverage work that The Dow Chemical Company has already begun through partnerships with Turkish carbon fiber manufacturer AKSA and the US Department of Energy Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
If the joint development effort is successful, carbon fiber components may begin appearing on new Ford vehicles in the latter part of this decade as product development teams work toward meeting new fuel efficiency standards of more than 50 mpg and extending the range of plug-in vehicles.