Ford introduces Lightweight Concept vehicle to showcase ongoing light-weighting and advanced materials work; nearly 25% weight reduction
|Ford Lightweight Concept. Click to enlarge.|
Ford Motor Company unveiled its Lightweight Concept vehicle, which uses advanced materials to explore future weight-reduction solutions that could improve performance and fuel efficiency while reducing CO2 emissions. The Ford Lightweight Concept reduces the weight of a 2013 Fusion to that of a Ford Fiesta, resulting in a nearly 25% weight reduction.
The vehicle represents the latest phase of Ford’s research into developing sustainable technology solutions that are affordable for consumers and can be produced in large volumes across the product lineup. This research has also led to the significant weight reduction of up to 700 pounds (318 kg) in the all-new F-150 through the use of high-strength steel and aluminum. (Earlier post.)
Consumers today want better fuel efficiency, but they also want more technology and features in the car, which usually adds weight to the vehicle. A focus on light-weighting will be fundamental to our industry for years to come, and we are investigating many advanced materials applications as possible solutions for weight reduction in our vehicles.—Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development
Ford’s Lightweight Concept uses many of the same advanced materials found in today’s lightweight electronic devices, including aluminum, chemically toughened glass and advanced lightweight plastics.
Ford engineers took a holistic approach to weight reduction by incorporating advanced materials into the entire design of the vehicle, including powertrain, chassis, body, battery (earlier post) and interior features such as seats. This Lightweight Concept vehicle represents its most comprehensive blend of advanced materials yet in one vehicle, including strategic application of aluminum, ultra-high-strength steels, magnesium and carbon fiber.
Advanced lightweight materials incorporated in the concept car include aluminum and advanced high-strength steel, magnesium and carbon fiber. Specific material substitutions include:
Suspension components, which led to a 30% weight reduction compared to a production 2013 Ford Fusion through the use of:
- Tall, narrow tires
- 19” by 5” carbon fiber wheels
- Aluminum brake rotors coated with steel
- Composite and hollow steel coil springs
- Lightweight hollow steel stabilizer bars
Interior components, which led to a 35% weight reduction through the use of:
- Carbon fiber seats
- Carbon fiber interior components
- Foamed interior plastic trim, which saved 15%
Lightweight glazings, which saved 35%:
- Polycarbonate rear window
- Hybrid chemically toughened laminate (chemically toughened glass plus soda lime glass) windshield and door glass
Powertrain design, which led to a 24% weight reduction through the use of:
- 1.0-liter aluminum EcoBoost 3-cylinder engine
- Hollow steel crankshafts and forged aluminum connecting rods
- Carbon fiber oil pan, front cover and cam carrier
- Cast aluminum and magnesium transmission components
Body- and Door-in-white designs, which led to a 25% weight reduction through the use of:
- Aluminum sheet
- Aluminum extrusions
- Aluminum castings
- Advanced High Strength Steel
- Ultra High Strength Steel
- Magnesium (small casting in front doors)
The research vehicle was developed with the US Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Program, together with Cosma International—a subsidiary of Magna International—to illustrate long-term potential light-weighting solutions. Magna’s design and development of the multi-material body-in-white, closures and chassis components are a significant contribution in light-weighting the concept vehicle, Ford said.
Our goal was to investigate how to design and build a mixed-materials, lightweight vehicle that could potentially be produced in high volume, while providing the same level of safety, durability and toughness as our vehicles on the road today. There’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to light-weighting. The Lightweight Concept gives us the platform to continue to explore the right mix of materials and applications for future vehicles.—Matt Zaluzec, Ford technical leader, Global Materials and Manufacturing Research
Light-weighting is a key component in Ford’s Blueprint for Sustainability, which integrates sustainability into the business plan for the long-term preservation and enhancement of environmental, social and financial capital. The introduction and incorporation of lightweight materials into vehicle construction helps meet the goal of reducing weight to achieve better fuel economy for consumers while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Ford’s research into improved efficiency through weight reduction with advanced materials including new metals, alloys and composites began more than 25 years ago. This research produced the breakthrough Aluminum Intensive Vehicle program in 1992 and all-aluminum high-performance Ford GT in 2005.