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Old 10-10-2012, 11:19 AM   #1
AVANTI R5
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Default Ford seeks to lighten cars, improve mpg, with carbon fiber




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Exotic cars, such as the McLaren MP4-12C, boast lightweight bodies made entirely of carbon fiber-reinforced panels, yet a demonstration by Ford of a carbon fiber hood suggests that mass commercialization of this advanced material will trickle out on a piece-by-piece basis.



Carbon fiber-reinforced components can weigh less than half of their steel equivalents, while exhibiting similar strength. However, carbon fiber is currently too time-consuming and expensive to produce for use in affordable, mass market cars. BMW currently builds a carbon fiber roof over the cabin of its M3 performance vehicle, and is working with Daimler on developing a practical production process for carbon fiber body components.



Ford's European Research Centre worked with Hightech.NRW, a German research consortium dedicated to developing practical carbon fiber-based automotive components, to manufacture the Focus hood. Ford showed off the new component at the Composites Europe conference in Dusseldorf, Germany, touting the production process, which cut down time and cost to build the hood.



In Europe, Ford has partnered with Dow Automotive Systems to commercialize the new materials production process. Ford says the goal of this technology is to shed about 750 pounds from its production cars. This technology would take the curb weight of a 2013 Ford Focus from 2,948 pounds down to 2,198 pounds, a reduction that would increase fuel economy.



The research is also looking into sandwiching a foam core between carbon fiber-reinforced body panels to improve car-pedestrian collision safety.
The advent of carbon fiber-reinforced body panels on cars means an end to merely pulling out a ding or pounding out damage, but this material's strength also means it can handle small abuses, such as being smacked with a shopping cart, better than steel.
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Old 10-10-2012, 11:55 AM   #2
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This is a very good thing.
Not necessairly for me yet, as I probably won't ever own a Ford, but if Ford can mainstream CF and bring proven production costs down, everybody'll be doing it. Good stuff.
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Old 10-10-2012, 01:02 PM   #3
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I'd rock the living jesus out of a 2,200 pound Focus. They handle incredibly as they are.
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Old 10-10-2012, 01:11 PM   #4
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I think a 2,200 pound Focus ST would be a rather fun car. But, I'd love to see this applied to a WRX.
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Old 10-10-2012, 02:59 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MDRex View Post
I think a 2,200 pound Focus ST would be a rather fun car. But, I'd love to see this applied to a WRX.
The WRX already had an aluminum hood that weighed far less than steel.
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Old 10-10-2012, 04:25 PM   #6
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I bet they have trouble meeting crash safety standards when they do this. Think will also add $$$ to cost.
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Old 10-10-2012, 04:38 PM   #7
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didnt the original gti weigh something like 18xx or 19xx pounds
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Old 10-11-2012, 12:18 PM   #8
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The WRX already had an aluminum hood that weighed far less than steel.
Right, but I'm talking more about the overall 750 pound savings. That would require a lot more than just a CF hood.

But really, I'd like to see Ford do that to the Mustang. A sub 3,000 pound modern Mustang would be killer.
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Old 10-11-2012, 12:35 PM   #9
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GMs new minicar, the Chevy Spark, is 2250 lbs at 85 hp, with a 1.2L turbo.

--kC
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Old 10-11-2012, 02:51 PM   #10
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didnt the original gti weigh something like 18xx or 19xx pounds
1,785 according to articles.
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Old 10-11-2012, 02:56 PM   #11
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Just a point of reference, driven a Thunder Roadster that was a blast. Despite only having 120 HP, it does 0-60 in about 3.5/4 seconds and can pull 1.5 G's. That's what 1200 lbs will do for you.
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Old 10-11-2012, 04:33 PM   #12
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I wonder why more car companies don't use composite (plastic) body panels like Corvette does; cheap & light is the way to go for production cars.

Nick
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Old 10-11-2012, 07:51 PM   #13
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How about ford's new fiesta st that is coming out? A carbon roof, hood and quarter panels aren't terribly complicated shapes and pretty flat too. It would further drop the center of gravity down and lighten an already light car.
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Old 10-11-2012, 08:20 PM   #14
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Quote:
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Right, but I'm talking more about the overall 750 pound savings. That would require a lot more than just a CF hood.

But really, I'd like to see Ford do that to the Mustang. A sub 3,000 pound modern Mustang would be killer.
Yeah, but you could do that with just aluminum. CF is supposed to end up cheaper than Al. That is why they keep wasting/spending money on it. Its the next big thing. But aluminum is already the current thing that we can easily do.
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Old 10-11-2012, 10:50 PM   #15
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Yeah, but you could do that with just aluminum. CF is supposed to end up cheaper than Al. That is why they keep wasting/spending money on it. Its the next big thing. But aluminum is already the current thing that we can easily do.
yeah...for most of these applications, cf is still just WAY cost ineffective and wont see mainstream use for many years

aluminum(and cf) is still WAY more $$$ than steel and there really isnt any advantage of using cf over aluminum in low end cars and there wont ever be, i think
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Old 10-11-2012, 10:54 PM   #16
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I wonder why more car companies don't use composite (plastic) body panels like Corvette does; cheap & light is the way to go for production cars.

Nick
chrysler and saturn(gm) made lots of car panels outta plastics....ive seen many old beat concords and saturns with cracked door skins and front fenders
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Old 10-12-2012, 01:02 AM   #17
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The reason they stay away from plastics, and are leaning towards carbon fiber, is due to the tolerances of the plastics, resulting in body gaps.

The Corvette's fiberglass does well. But the plastic used for Saturns was prone to expansion/contraction, created huge gaps in the body panels, and resulted in a very unpleasing look.

From what I remember.
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Old 10-12-2012, 01:43 AM   #18
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The weight savings isn't there with plastics like it is with CF, fiberglass and aluminum. They have to make plastic panels pretty thick to be rigid enough to span large sections. That's where CF & FG rule. Paint never held up well on plastic. Most Saturns look like hell after just a short time. Paint coming off in sheets. A shame, as plastic could be very cost-effective. Probably not the greenest option though.
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Old 10-12-2012, 06:23 AM   #19
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That is a curious thought. Would plastics save weight over steel enough to save the petroleum used to make them? Cars are recycled very fully so the steel or aluminum is recovered. CF would probably not be.
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Old 10-12-2012, 04:48 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by White out View Post
I wonder why more car companies don't use composite (plastic) body panels like Corvette does; cheap & light is the way to go for production cars.

Nick
Umm... price tag of a Corvette might have something to do with this.
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Old 10-12-2012, 08:19 PM   #21
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Umm... price tag of a Corvette might have something to do with this.
I don't think plastic panels make the corvette expensive.
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Old 10-12-2012, 10:49 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by White out View Post
I wonder why more car companies don't use composite (plastic) body panels like Corvette does; cheap & light is the way to go for production cars.

Nick
Plastic takes a little more time and effort to form into a body panel compared to steel.

Also, as previously stated, plastic expands and contracts a lot more than steel (like 10x) with temperature, so the panel gaps have to be made larger.
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Old 10-15-2012, 10:45 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dcsti View Post
Plastic takes a little more time and effort to form into a body panel compared to steel.

Also, as previously stated, plastic expands and contracts a lot more than steel (like 10x) with temperature, so the panel gaps have to be made larger.
Which is why all of those plastic-bodied Saturns looked like crap.

Edit: as ChiWRX already stated.
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Old 10-15-2012, 12:38 PM   #24
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I was referring to composite like Corvette, not like:



(yes, my old car. )

Nick
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Old 10-18-2012, 09:59 AM   #25
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I believe the E92 3 series (coupe) has composite front fenders, the sedan may as well. I'm not talking M3 here, but the 328 & 335. RTM with fiber reinforcement if my 10 second look at one in a body shop was accurate. The M3 coupe of course has a carbon roof.

Anybody know if the F30 retained the composite fenders?
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