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Ford to Develop Carbon Fibre Technology to to Cut The Weight of Its Cars

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Core Tip: US carmaker Ford Motor is working on a project to develop a new carbon fibre technology, in a bid to cut the weight of

US carmaker Ford Motor is working on a project to develop a new carbon fibre technology, in a bid to cut the weight of its cars by up to 340kg by the end of the decade as well as deliver enhanced fuel economy.

The company has demonstrated the prototype of the new technology equipped on a Ford Focus bonnet, which has been built with a material generally used for developing customized racing vehicles or high-performance sports cars.

Ford European Research Centre advanced materials and processes research engineer Inga Wehmeyer said that it is usual for a vehicle to deliver fuel consumption benefits when its weight is reduced, but there has been no process available for fast and affordable production of carbon fibre automotive parts in large quantities.

"By partnering with materials experts through the Hightech.NRW research project, Ford is working to develop a solution that supports cost efficient manufacturing of carbon fibre components," Wehmeyer said.

Ford claims that the prototype bonnet weighs 50% less when compared to a standard steel version, and offers a maximised strength-to-weight ratio.

Ford Research and Innovation chief technical officer and vice president Paul Mascarenas said the energy use in vehicles can be reduced both by enhancing the conversion efficiency of fuels to motion and by reducing the powertrains work.

"Ford is tackling the conversion problem primarily through downsizing engines with EcoBoost and electrification while mass reduction and improved aerodynamics are keys to reducing the workload," Mascarenas added.

The project involves experts from the Institute of Automotive Engineering at RWTH Aachen University, Henkel, Evonik, Institute of Plastics Processing (IKV), Composite Impulse and Toho Tenax.

Funded by the Germany's North Rhine-Westphalia state, the project was commenced in 2010 and is expected to continue until September 2013.

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