Ford will ramp up the use of carbon fiber in its vehicles as a light-weighting strategy, following an agreement with supplier DowAksa to lead to high-volume automotive use of the material that's most been used in exotic, luxury vehicles.
The use of carbon fiber will allow Ford to reduce weight and improve fuel efficiency without sacrificing strength, Ford announced. The 50-50 joint venture should lead to a more affordable application of carbon fiber in cars and trucks. The agreement may lead to a commercial manufacturing partnership.
"Automotive manufacturers' use of carbon fiber composites has been hindered by the absence of both high-volume manufacturing methods and affordable material formats," said Mehmet Ali Berkman, DowAska's vice chairman. "This partnership combines the individual strengths of each company to target these challenges."
Ford has said it plans extensive carbon fiber for its 2016 GT mid-engine supercar.
So far, BMW has taken the lead in incorporating carbon fiber into vehicle bodies with extensive use in the i3 and i8 electric and hybrid cars. BMW has said it plans to produce 9,000 tons of carbon fiber at a dedicated Washington state plant.