by Christopher Freeburn | April 16, 2012 1:16 pm
Losing weight is a national obsession in the U.S. Now it seems, even automobiles are getting in on the act.
Faced with rising gas and commodity prices, Ford (NYSE:F) has decided to reduce the total weight of every car it manufactures by 750 pounds by the end of this decade, USA Today reports.
With its new EcoBoost engines, Ford estimates that it can reduce car weight by almost half of the 750 pound goal. But that still leaves about 375 pounds to eliminate.
Cutting that much weight out of its vehicles will be no mean feat for the automaker, which has enlisted Dow Chemical (NYSE:DOW) to help it meet the goal. The idea is to replace some of the heavier items inside Ford cars with parts made from carbon fiber, which is reputed to be as durable as heavier materials like metal, but much lighter.
Carbon fiber, however, is still fairly costly to mass-produce. So part of the joint research between Dow Chemical and Ford will seek to reduce production costs for carbon-fiber components.
For its part, Dow Chemical has teamed with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Turkey-based AKSA, which produces carbon fiber. Ford anticipates adding new carbon-fiber components to its cars by the end of the current decade.
“This partnership with Ford on carbon fiber composites is a logical next step to progress already achieved through the use of lightweight, high-strength polymers and structural bonding technology,” Florian Schattenmann, director of research and development for Dow Automotive Systems, told USA Today.
By reducing overall vehicle weight, Ford should be able to boost fuel economy because lighter vehicles require less fuel to drive. With consumers already cutting back spending due to high prices at the pump, the lighter Ford vehicles can’t come soon enough.
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