Ford and Dow join forces to help slim down vehicles

Posted on 12 Apr 2012 by Tim Brown

Ford Motor Company announced today that it would be joining forces with Dow Automotive Systems to help achieve its goal of cutting the weight of new cars and trucks by up to 300kg by the end of the decade to improve fuel efficiency.

Ford and Dow Automotive Systems, a business unit of the Dow Chemical Company, have signed a joint development agreement that will see researchers collaborate on several fronts. The development teams will focus on establishing an economical source of automotive-grade carbon fiber and develop component manufacturing methods for high-volume automotive applications.

Ford further stated that 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 stated that it is investigating a range of new materials, enhanced design processes and new manufacturing techniques that would enable automotive structures to meet increasingly stringent safety and quality standards while cutting weight.

Lighter materials can also help Ford improve the range of its electric and hybrid vehicles on a single charge.

“Reducing weight will benefit the efficiency of every Ford vehicle,” said Paul Mascarenas, Ford’s chief technical officer. “However, it’s particularly critical to improving the range of plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles.”

The Obama administration said automakers would have to boost the average fuel efficiency of their cars and trucks to 54.5 miles per gallon (11 miles per litre) by the 2025 model year.

Preliminary U.S. data shows that the average fuel economy for cars and trucks made for the 2011 model year was 22.8 miles per gallon (5.7 miles per litre). Ford’s fuel economy was 21.3 miles per gallon (5.3 miles per litre), according to the data from the Environmental Protection Agency.