Ford has released details of its new carbon-fibre subframe co-developed with Magna International, one of the automotive industry’s leading suppliers.
The prototype carbon-fibre composite component will help cars to be lighter and more fuel efficient, while also significantly reducing the number of parts needed in the chassis.
According to the two companies, the new product reduces mass by 34 per cent, while reducing the number of parts by an even more significant 87 per cent compared to making a stamped steel equivalent – as it only requires two moulded pieces and four metallic parts.
The new subframe technology is the result of a research and development project between the two companies to investigate weight-reduction benefits and technical challenges of using carbon-fibre-reinforced composites in vehicle chassis.
Subframes are a key part of a vehicle’s structure, normally providing a place to attach the engine and wheels while also contributing rigidity and crash management.
Mike Whitens, director of vehicle enterprise systems at Ford’s global research and advanced engineering division, said: “Collaboration is the key to success in designing lightweight components that can give our customers fuel economy improvements without compromising ride and handling, durability or safety”.
“We must continue to work hard to achieve these lightweight solutions at the most affordable costs. Magna and Ford working together on this carbon fiber composite subframe is a great example of collaboration on advanced materials.”
The prototype subframes are in the process of being produced by Magna for component and vehicle-level testing at Ford.
During the testing stage, the subframes will be assessed for corrosion, stone chipping and bolt load retention.
No word has been given yet as to when these components will make it to market in production vehicles, but the fact they’re already undergoing vehicle-level testing means carbon-fibre subframes could be introduced in the not-too-distant future.