For when the start/stop and regenerative braking don’t cut it anymore, Ford is going to rely on lightness to lower its fuel consumption. They are developing new carbon fiber technologies to be used in their mainstream models. What you see here is a Focus wagon fitted with a carbon fiber bonnet.
Carbon Fiber is an expensive materials that is very light, yet very strong and rigid. That is why it is used in abundance in racing and super cars. What Ford is trying to do is bring the cost of producing carbon fiber down, so it can be used in normal cars as well.
The weight saving that carbon fiber results in is tremendous. That carbon bonnet on this Focus here is 50 per cent lighter than the stock unit. By expanding the use of this material, making more body panels from carbon, they are going to save an immense amount of weight, which means the cars will be more fuel efficient.
Now some people may be thinking what about safety? Well, carbon fiber is an amazing material. It is five times as strong as steel, twice as stiff, and one-third the weight. Advanced materials such as carbon fibre are key to Ford’s plans to reduce the weight of its cars by up to 340kg by the end of the decade.
There are of course some big hurdles in the way for Ford and its partners to achieve their ambitious goals. They have to find a cost effective method to manufacture carbon fibre composites for body panel application, reduce individual component production times, reduce the amount of finishing work required, and get around painting requirements. It is well worth it though.