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Ford has become the latest major manufacturer to strike a partnership with a technology company to research the use of carbonfibre products in its vehicles.

The deal with Dow Automotive Systems is the second part of Ford’s two-pronged efforts to reduce its fleet’s energy use, complementing its ‘EcoBoost’ engine downsizing and efficiency strategy.

Ford expects the use of carbonfibre components to play a significant role in its ambition to reduce the weight of its new vehicles by up to 750 pounds (340kg) by 2020. It is currently investigating a number of new materials, design processes and manufacturing techniques that will satisfy rising quality and safety standards while cutting weight.

The partnership will look to combine Ford’s design, engineering and high-volume vehicle production experience with Dow Automotive’s strengths in research and development, materials science and high-volume polymer processing.

If the partnership is successful, Ford says carbonfibre components could appear in its mass-produced vehicles before the end of the decade as it targets further efficiency gains, emission reductions and extended range for its plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles.

The move follows commitments from a number of other global manufacturers to invest in carbonfibre technology as a weight-saving strategy. In November, BMW strengthened its partnership with carbonfibre manufacturer SGL Group ahead of the launch of the electric and plug-in hybrid i3 and i8 models, which will use a high proportion of the high-strength, lightweight material in their construction.

Mercedes-Benz has a similar partnership with Japanese carbonfibre maker Toray, while Audi is also tied to a deal with fellow German manufacturer Voith.

  • Jerrycan

    I find it hard to believe that Ford were not already engaged in research in use of carbon fibre for many years.

    • Smart Us

       you need to survive first before you drink champagne… GFC took toll on everyone

    • Deodorant

      Since they owned Jaguar, they should’ve researched into aluminium frames to reduce weight. I’m amazed by how much Jag sedans weigh.

  • TG

    This should solve the rust problems in Territories. 😀

  • Mrx

    Carbon fiber, that’s what supercars use..

    Ford has a big mouth, they talk the walk but they can’t walk the talk..

    All of their recent ideas, such as ecboost, 3 cylinder engines etc etc..

    They just don’t have good execution skills

    • Bigbird

      Are you talking abot Ford as a global company or just the Australian arm?
      Because Ford as the global company is doing pretty damn good.
      During and post GFC, they have handled themselves very well.
      Look outside of Australia and you’ll see that Ford isn’t a dirty word anymore.

  • save it for the track

    Imagine an xr6t with 340kg taken out of it. Even the v8 might handle with a weight cut.

    • Bob

      you can count on Aussie cars being the last to get any of this treatment

      • Joker

        Mustang is rumored to be going Global in 2014. New IRS Set up. Expect this to be the new Falcon. The timing is right, Ford Aus have been working with Ford US to develop it. My prediction: Ford will use a Falcon “Top hat” on a Mustang platform so expect carbon fibre to be employed in some parts by then if they have it at that stage. We may lose the I6 but we will gain some nice hi-po V6’s out of the US. Mustang V6’s are pulling 0-60Mph times of 4.6 Seconds. I will be sad to see the I6 Gone but hey- if your going to do a Global V6 No one i’d rather do it than Ford :) 

        • Hendrik

          Dropping the foster-child Falcon platform will do Ford Australia a lot of good in financial terms. No more ad-hoc manufacturing costs that plague the bottom line.

          FoMoCo and GM don’t really care about the Australian market because of the small percentage of revenue in comparison to other emerging markets, thats why Ford Oz has been allocated the R&D task for many smaller Asian Fords instead. Makes sense to apply the strong knowledge our engineers have to a more marketable and cross-continent product.

          Anyway back on topic, Carbon Fibre really doesn’t work well on exterior panels as you can’t reshape it, aluminium is also very difficult to reshape cheaply, I think this article is pointing more towards internal components and parts of the frame/sub-frame of vehicles.

          • Joker

            Yea, It would be hugely unfeasible to create body panels out of carbon fibre. The biggest hit would be to repair jobs in the event of an accident. I expect it to be components inside the car and I believe that’s what this article is about too. 

  • MisterZed

    GM already used plastic panels in it’s vehicles in the 90s.  They were common on most Pontiacs.

    • Mad Max

      And many Nissans still use plastics panels. The rear hatch on the Murano and the front guards on the Xtrail are injection moulded. But plastic is not carbon fibre and has nowhere near the strength or the heat induced expansion and conraction resistant properties of CF. Its one of the reasons why the Pontiacs your reffering to were a failure.

    • Rocket

      My old Lego cars were plastic too.