After years and years of cars being built and developed, Ford and Magna joint forces and developed a carbon fiber subframe that will reduce as much as 34% of a steel subframe’s weight. The developers recently unveiled a prototype of this.
What difference does it make, you ask? With a much lighter car, fuel consumption will dramatically decrease. Who doesn’t want that? Not only will it save us a few dollars, we can also save the planet by reducing our carbon footprint. In fact, the biggest car companies have been leaning towards building lighter vehicles by exploring other options such as aluminum engines, optimized chassis components, and probably the most common nowadays, carbon fiber panels for the car’s structure and exterior.
Another great thing about this development, according to sources, is that a carbon fiber subframe only uses a few parts - with two molded and four metallic components. Compare that with a standard steel equivalent which uses 45 steel part (thus the 34% weight difference). So imagine, from 45 parts down to only 6 parts.
Furthermore, the new design has already gone through a computer-aided engineering (CAE) analysis, and so far, it has passed all the performance requirements. The next step is for Magna to build duplicates of the prototype and test the subframes on actual Ford vehicles. And during these tests, engineers will have to assess certain things that can’t be calculated by computed-simulated analysis, such as corrosion and stone chipping. Like any other component that goes through the development phase, experts will have to provide design recommendations and assembly processes, based on the studies they will gain from the tests.
President of Magna Exteriors, Grahame Burrow explained that it is a great opportunity for them to fully support their projects by working closely with a company during the design and engineering processes. Partnering with Ford Motors in developing the carbon fiber subframe gives them a better picture of what they can do for, and with, their clients. In this case, there’s a ton of potential in building much lighter subframes that will not take a toll on the design and performance of the vehicles. Nevertheless, they’ve stuck to the brand’s specific style and character. It’s basically a win-win situation for both ends.
But people might ask. Are there any downsides to this development? At this point in time, it is too early for us to point out any limitations of the carbon fiber subframe yet, as it will still go through tests, like I mentioned earlier. However, this is indeed exciting news for everyone in the auto industry.