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Ford and Dow Researching Carbon Fiber Components to Reduce Vehicle Weight

April 12, 2012

DEARBORN, MI – Ford and Dow Automotive Systems are researching the use of carbon fiber automotive components that Ford says can reduce vehicle weight by up to 750 lbs. This research is designed to help Ford meet upcoming fuel-economy requirements.

“There are two ways to reduce energy use in vehicles: improving the conversion efficiency of fuels to motion and reducing the amount of work that powertrains need to do,” said Paul Mascarenas, Ford chief technical officer and vice president, Research and Innovation. “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.”

Although carbon fiber has been used in racecars and in the aerospace industry for many years, the cost of components that use carbon fiber in mass-produced automotive systems has traditionally been cost prohibitive.

The new agreement between Dow and Ford will allow development teams from both companies to first establish an economical source of automotive-grade carbon fiber, and then to develop manufacturing methods for components that allow production of components made of this material in high volumes.

Ford's Mascarenas said it sees this technology of primary use in two types of vehicles with alternative powertrains:

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

According to Ford, the new agreement will build on work that the Dow Chemical Company has already accomplished via partnerships with Turkish carbon fiber manufacturer AKSA and the U.S. Department of Energy Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

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