Ford's carbon fibre for masses
LIGHT AND STRONG: Ford wants to incorporate more carbon fibre and other advanced components in its vehicle production processes.
Ford has unveiled a prototype carbon-fibre bonnet that's 50% lighter than the steel part currently in use - part of a move to use more lightweight components to reduce fuel-consumption.
The carbon-fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) bonnet was displayed in a Focus at a Composites Europe event in Dusseldorf, Germany. The material is more commonly used in high-end performance and race cars and is part of an on-going research project at Ford’s European Research Centre.
Inga Wehmeyer, the centres advanced materials and processes research engineer, said: “Reducing a vehicle’s weight can deliver major benefits for fuel consumption but a process for fast and affordable production of carbon-fibre automotive parts in large numbers has never been available.
“Ford is working to develop a solution that supports cost-efficient manufacturing of carbon-fibre components."
Production time for an individual carbon -ibre bonnet was now fast enough to supply a production line.
Ford’s intends to reduce the weight of its cars by as much as 340kg by the end of the decade.
Initial testing suggests that CFRP components such as the prototype Focus bonnet will meet Ford’s standards for stiffness, dent resistance and crash performance. The bonnet has also performed well in pedestrian protection head-impact tests, thanks to its special foam core sandwiched between two layers of CFRP.
Paul Mascarenas, Ford’s chief technical officer, said: “There are two ways to reduce energy use in vehicles - improve the conversion efficiency of fuels to motion and reduce the amount of work that powertrains need to do.
“Ford is tackling the conversion problem primarily through downsizing engines with EcoBoost and electrification while weight reduction and improved aerodynamics help to reduce the workload.”