by USA TODAY
Attention, dieters. If you think you have it hard, consider what Ford Motor is going through. It’s created a goal of cutting 750 pounds of ugly, dangerous fat out of every car by the end of the decade.
Like any biggest loser, Ford needs some help if it is going to get to its goal. It went right to Dow Chemical, which thinks it can come through with an affordable automotive diet pill of sorts known as carbon fiber.
Ford thinks it is already well on its way to tackling half the equation, finding ways of reducing engine size without crippling horsepower with its EcoBoost engines. The second half involves lighter materials, and that’s where Dow comes in.
“Vehicle weight reduction for our customers through intelligent design with a materials focus has been a priority for Dow Automotive Systems,” said Florian Schattenmann, director of research and development for Dow Automotive Systems. “This partnership with Ford on carbon fiber composites is a logical next step to progress already achieved through the use of lightweight, high-strength polymers and structural bonding technology.”
The goal of the collaboration is to find a way to make cheaper carbon fiber:
Ford says the joint development effort will also leverage work that Dow has already begun with Turkish carbon fiber manufacturer AKSA and the U.S. Department of Energy Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
If the joint development effort is successful, Ford says carbon fiber 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 miles per gallon and extending the range of plug-in vehicles.