Ford developing carbon fiber technology to make more fuel-efficient cars image

Ford Motor Company is working on a new carbon fiber technology that could help lower fuel consumption of its vehicles.

The carmaker today demonstrated a prototype carbon fiber reinforced plastic bonnet for the Ford Focus at the Composites Europe event in Dusseldorf, Germany. The bonnet is constructed from the super-strong material usually associated with bespoke racing vehicles or high-performance sports cars.

The main advantage is that the prototype bonnet weighs more than 50 percent less than a standard steel version. Also, production time for an individual carbon fibre bonnet is fast enough to be employed on a production line, which represents a significant step towards increased usage of lightweight materials in Ford vehicles.

“It’s no secret that reducing a vehicle’s weight can deliver major benefits for fuel consumption, but a process for fast and affordable production of carbon fiber automotive parts in large numbers has never been available,” said Inga Wehmeyer, advanced materials and processes research engineer, Ford European Research Centre. “By partnering with materials experts through the Hightech.NRW research project, Ford is working to develop a solution that supports cost efficient manufacturing of carbon fiber components,” Wehmeyer added.

Ford’s involvement in the Hightech.NRW research project follows its partnership with Dow Automotive Systems, a collaboration that will investigate new materials, design processes and manufacturing techniques. Advanced materials such as carbon fiber are key to Ford’s plans to reduce the weight of its cars by up to 340 kg by the end of the decade.