Ford Motor Co. and Dow Chemical Co. are planning to improve overall fuel economy by reducing the vehicles’ weight. They’re currently developing cost-effective methods to use carbon fiber in high-volume cars and trucks. Entering this joint venture with Dow Automotive Systems (a unit of Dow Chemical) suggests that Ford may begin using parts built from advanced carbon fiber composites in its vehicle lineup before the decade ends.
This project was announced by the companies this week together with a statement. Reducing the weight is a way to raise the efficiency of the automakers’ fleets in preparation for increasing oil prices and more stringent economy standards for the upcoming model years.
Ford hopes that by 2020, it will be able to use lighter materials and reduce the weight of its new cars and trucks by a figure between 250 pounds and 750 pounds. By cutting the weight, the strain on the engine will be lessened and this will result to more miles per gallon. The use of lighter materials could aid Ford to improve the range of its electric and hybrid vehicles on a single charge.
Paul Mascarenas, Ford's chief technical officer, said that every Ford vehicle will become more efficient when the weight is reduced. He pointed out that it’s even more crucial that the range of plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles will be extended.
The Obama administration said that by the 2025 model year, automakers are required to improve the average fuel efficiency of their cars and trucks to 54.5 miles per gallon. Initial U.S. data indicate that for the 2011 model year, the average fuel economy for cars and trucks was 22.8 miles per gallon. The Environmental Protection Agency said that Ford had a fuel economy rating of 21.3 miles per gallon. [source: Autonews]