For a long time, carbon fiber was a high tech, high cost product. Slowly, carbon fiber is going mainstream. From Volkswagen to Toyota and GM, large automakers have carbon fiber projects in the works. Now, Ford is joining the bandwagon made from lightweight fiber.
Ford joined up with fiber specialist Dow Chemical “to develop cost-effective ways of using carbon fiber in high-volume cars and trucks as the No.2 U.S. automaker moves to cut vehicle weight to improve overall fuel economy,” Reuters writes.
Shedding weight is one of the most efficient ways to increase fuel economy. If you don’t have to drag around superfluous weight, your car will go farther on a tank of gas, or a fully charged battery for that matter. By 2020, Ford aims to cut between 250 pounds and 750 pounds from its new cars and trucks, partly by using lighter materials.
Using carbon fiber instead of steel can lower the weight of a vehicle component by up to 50 percent, says to the U.S. Department of Energy. Cutting a car’s weight by 10 percent can improve fuel economy by as much as 8 percent.
The biggest problem is cost: These space-aged materials command spaced-out prices. Bringing cost and weight down is the biggest challenge.