Don't expect Ford's adoption of an aluminum body structure for its new F-150 to be the end-point in the company's drive to make vehicles lighter. It's just the beginning.
To drive that point home, Ford, in conjunction with the Cosma division of Canadian-based Magna, has just unveiled what it calls a Multi-Material Lightweight Vehicle (MMLV) concept car that is 25% lighter than the Fusion on which it is based.
In fact, the mid-sized sedan is said to weigh no more than a Ford Fiesta, two segments smaller in size, without compromising performance or occupant safety.
It even includes features and materials adapted from cell phones, such as a chemically-toughened windshield glass. Ford says it's the company's most comprehensive blend of advanced materials yet in one vehicle.
Engineers working on the MMLV project took a holistic approach to weight reduction by incorporating these advanced materials into the entire design of the vehicle, including powertrain, chassis, body, battery and interior features such as seats.
"Our goal was to investigate how to design and build a mixed-materials, lightweight vehicle that could potentially be produced in high volume, while providing the same level of safety, durability and toughness as our vehicles on the road today," said Matt Zaluzec, Ford technical leader, Global Materials and Manufacturing Research.
Light-weighting is said to be a key component in Ford’s Blueprint for Sustainability, as it helps meet the goals of achieving better fuel economy for consumers while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The Magna-led R&D activity, in cooperation with Ford, was co-funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).