Ford Demonstrates Lightweight Fusion Concept

Frank Markus The Manufacturer
#Ford, #Ford

Ford revealed a new lightweight concept version of the Fusion sedan that is nearly 25 percent lighter than the standard car. As a result, the lightweight Fusion weighs as much as the Ford Fiesta hatchback. According to Ford, a 2014 Fiesta weighs 2537-2628 pounds, while a non-hybrid 2014 Ford Fusion tips the scales at 3323-3681 pounds, putting the weight loss somewhere in between 800-900 lbs.

"Consumers today want better fuel efficiency, but they also want more technology and features in the car, which usually adds weight to the vehicle," Ford group vice president for global product development Raj Nair said in a statement. "A focus on light-weighting will be fundamental to our industry for years to come."

To that end, the lightweight Ford Fusion benefits from a long list of advanced materials that trim mass. The body is made from a mix of high-strength steel and extruded aluminum, the seat frames and dashboard are composed of carbon fiber, the front suspension springs are made from a composite material, and the rear steel springs are hollow. The car also benefits from an aluminum front suspension subframe, aluminum brake rotors, a carbon-fiber oil pan, and Ford's lightweight and fuel-efficient 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine that's already offered in the Fiesta and Focus.

"[This concept] could be built into a high-volume capable vehicle product," says Ford Research and Innovation senior technical leader Matt Zaluec, but he warns that, "Lightweighting does not come for free." In other words, Ford needs to address the cost of these lighter materials before they can be used on a mainstream car.

Although this Ford Fusion is simply a concept to show the possibilities of weight reduction for future models, the automaker has already used a similar strategy to trim as much as 700 pounds from the 2015 Ford F-150. By using aluminum and high-strength steels to drop the new pickup truck's curb weight, Ford was able to improve its towing and payload capacities, and fuel economy is also expected to increase.

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