Dearborn, Michigan - Ford is aiming to reduce vehicle weight by up to 750 lb (340 kg) by developing low-cost carbon fibre components in conjunction with Dow Automotive Systems.
The two companies will research the use of advanced carbon fibre composites in high-volume vehicles, in the hope of reducing weight and improving fuel efficiency.
The partnership will seek to combine the best of Ford's capabilities and experience in design, engineering and high-volume vehicle production with Dow Automotive's strengths in R&D, materials science and high-volume polymer processing, Ford said in a 12 April news release.
"Vehicle weight reduction for our customers through intelligent design with a materials focus has been a priority for Dow," said Florian Schattenmann, director of R&D for Dow Automotive Systems in a 12 April.
"This partnership with Ford on carbon fibre composites is a logical next step to progress already achieved through the use of lightweight, high-strength polymers and structural bonding technology," he added.
Carbon fibre composites have been used in aerospace and racing cars for decades due to their unique combination of high strength and low mass, Ford said. Until recently these materials have been far too costly for use in high-volume mainstream applications.
The joint development effort will also take advantage of work that Dow Chemical Co. has already begun through partnerships with Turkish carbon fibre manufacturer AKSA and the US Department of Energy Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Ford noted that if the joint development effort is successful, carbon fibre components may begin appearing on new Ford vehicles in the latter part of this decade as product development teams work toward meeting new fuel efficiency standards of more than 50 mpg (miles per gallon) and extending the range of plug-in vehicles.