In the never-ending drive to reduce mass in order to achieve better performance credentials or/and lower fuel consumption, one of the best ways to get quick results is by dropping weight.
These days, mainstream manufacturers are less preoccupied with the first aspect of the weight-reduction equation and more with the latter – and are researching numerous ideas and procedures to lower the curb weight, including smaller engines made of aluminum, optimized chassis components, lightweight materials for the body structure, carbon fiber body panels, and others. Ford and Magna also came up with the idea of using a carbon fiber composite for the subframe, an important part of the vehicle’s structure – the one holding the engine. The two companies have now revealed a prototype, which drops its weight by 34 percent compared to a stamped steel counterpart.
The subframe also makes use of fewer parts, with 45 steel components replaced with two molded and four metallic parts – the component reduction is actually quite dramatic – 87 percent. Magna also says the design of the subframe has passed all performance requirements based on computer-aided engineering (CAE) analyses – and it’s making several of them to be tested in real life by Ford vehicles. Across the test phase, engineers will evaluate corrosion, stone chipping and bolt load retention, which can’t be measured through computer-simulated work.