Ford looks to Dow for carbon fiber composites to meet CAFE Requirements

In the effort to fulfill Federal mileage mandates, Ford is teaming up with the Dow Chemical Company to develop low-cost carbon fiber composites to be used in the component manufacturing process cutting 750 lbs from the weight of the next generation of autos.

That is the stated goal in weight reduction by the end of the decade – a key component of Ford’s effort to meet CAFE requirements. Ford is specifically partnering with Dow Automotive Systems, a business subgroup, in researching the application of cutting-edge carbon fiber composite materials in high-volume vehicle fabrication.

"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."

Ford is currently exploring a wide range of materials, design processes and new fabrication techniques to develop automotive parts that meet ever more stringent safety and quality standards while still reducing gross weight.

"Vehicle weight reduction for our customers through intelligent design with a materials focus has been a priority for Dow Automotive Systems," said Florian Schattenmann, director of Research and Development for Dow Automotive Systems. "This partnership with Ford on carbon fiber composites is a logical next step to progress already achieved through the use of lightweight, high-strength polymers and structural bonding technology."


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I spoke with a Ford engineer at NAIAS 2012 who stated the next phase has to be lighter weight, as there is a limit to downsizing engines. So, nice to read it's in process, but Auto News reported that Audi is way ahead of everyone with composites.