If you haven’t heard the industry term for making things lighter to make them consume less fuel or go faster, it is “light-weighting,” and that’s what Ford has done with its comprehensively re-done Lightweight Concept.
Borrowing technologies used to shed pounds from advanced military and aerospace vehicles, and bullet trains, Ford put together a Fusion that’s nearly 25 percent lighter, or about the weight of a Fiesta.
The idea actually is inspired more directly by Ford’s pending aluminum and high-strength steel F-150 pickup truck which sheds as much as 700 pounds.
With the Ford Lightweight Concept, the company cut a couple hundred more pounds through a “holistic” approach that employed advanced composite structures and mixed materials, including aluminum and carbon fiber.
In this case, the 1.0-liter three cylinder enegine from the Fiesta was also part of the weight reduction, as were items like composite wheels, suspension springs, and even the oil pan. The design exercise is the most cutting edge weight reduction plan Ford has used, while retaining safety and features expected in today’s cars.
Depending on configuration, a stock 2014 Fusion might weigh 3,450 pounds, so cutting 25 percent would get it below 2,600 pounds, but Ford does not state the exact curb weight.
Being a concept, naturally this experiment is not for sale, would be cost prohibitive to build –– but –– Ford says underlying the semi-exotic vehicle is that mass production of many of the tricks employed could see their way to affordable vehicles in showrooms.
“Our goal was to investigate how to design and build a mixed-materials, lightweight vehicle that could potentially be produced in high volume, while providing the same level of safety, durability and toughness as our vehicles on the road today,” said Matt Zaluzec, Ford technical leader, Global Materials and Manufacturing Research. “There’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to light-weighting. The Lightweight Concept gives us the platform to continue to explore the right mix of materials and applications for future vehicles.”