It's a fairly well known fact that removing weight from a car is essentially a panacea for many of the modern automobiles problems. Does it handle like crap? Remove weight. Underpowered? Don't add power; trim the fat. Need to improve fuel economy? It's diet time.

Actually executing a major weight reduction program, though, much like with human beings, is no easy task. Unlike you or I, where motivation is the issue, the prohibitive measure in trimming a car's waistline is money. Lightweight materials are expensive, with carbon fiber and carbon-fiber reinforced plastic still primarily in the domain of higher end vehicles. Even aluminum construction, pioneered on a mass-produced level by Audi and Jaguar, is only now starting to make its way into the mainstream, thanks to the upcoming Ford F-150.

With this concept, though, Ford is attempting to show that a mass-produced, lightweight vehicle isn't too far off. This is the Lightweight Concept, and while it may look like a Fusion, it weighs as much as a Fiesta. For reference, the lightest Fusion available to the public is the 3,323-pound, 2.5-liter model with a manual transmission. A manually equipped, 1.6-liter Fiesta, meanwhile, is just 2,537 pounds.

The nearly 25 percent weight reduction is thanks to the intensive use of aluminum, not to mention large dollops of high-strength steel, carbon fiber and chemically laminated glass.The Fiesta's three-cylinder EcoBoost engine, tiny tires and lightweight wheels round out the package.

We wouldn't count on picking a 2,500-pound Fusion up from you local dealer in the near future, though.

"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," Matt Zaluzec, Ford's technical leader for global materials and manufacturing research, said in a statement. "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."

Here's hoping some of these lightweight measures make to market in a wider form sooner rather than later. Maybe one day we'll even get a lightweight Mustang. Take a look below for the official press release from Ford. Ford Fusion Lightweight Concept
Show full PR text
FORD BUILDS ON ADVANCED MATERIALS USE IN ALL-NEW F-150 WITH LIGHTWEIGHT CONCEPT CAR

Ford Lightweight Concept vehicle represents Ford's ongoing research for future light-weighting and advanced materials applications, building on the all-new Ford F-150, which sheds up to 700 pounds through use of high-strength steel and aluminum alloys

Light-weighting is a key component in Ford's Blueprint for Sustainability; mixed-materials research vehicle explores how advanced materials might be applied for future high-volume vehicle production for better performance and gas mileage, and carbon dioxide emission reduction

Ford Lightweight Concept reduces the weight of a 2013 Fusion to that of a Ford Fiesta, resulting in a nearly 25 percent weight reduction

Mixed-materials research vehicle developed in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy's Vehicle Technologies Program, together with Cosma International – a subsidiary of Magna International


Ford Motor Company today unveiled its Lightweight Concept vehicle, which uses advanced materials to explore future weight-reduction solutions that could improve performance and fuel efficiency while reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

The vehicle represents the latest phase of Ford's research into developing sustainable technology solutions that are affordable for consumers and can be produced in large volumes across the product lineup. This research has also led to dramatic weight reductions of up to 700 pounds in the all-new F-150. The 2015 F-150 sheds weight through the use of high-strength steel and aluminum, enabling it to tow more, haul more, accelerate quicker and stop shorter – all with improved gas mileage.

"Consumers today want better fuel efficiency, but they also want more technology and features in the car, which usually adds weight to the vehicle," said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development. "A focus on light-weighting will be fundamental to our industry for years to come, and we are investigating many advanced materials applications as possible solutions for weight reduction in our vehicles."

Light-weighting is a key component in Ford's Blueprint for Sustainability, which integrates sustainability into the business plan for the long-term preservation and enhancement of environmental, social and financial capital. The introduction and incorporation of lightweight materials into vehicle construction helps meet the goal of reducing weight to achieve better fuel economy for consumers while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Ford's research into improved efficiency through weight reduction with advanced materials including new metals, alloys and composites began more than 25 years ago. This research produced the breakthrough Aluminum Intensive Vehicle program in 1992 and all-aluminum high-performance Ford GT in 2005.

Along with other fuel-efficiency technologies, light-weighting is fundamental to Ford's efforts to stabilize carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere at 450 parts per million – the level many scientists, businesses and governmental agencies believe may avoid the most serious effects of climate change.

Holistic approach to light-weighting
As consumer electronics like cellphones and tablets become more lightweight, so does the ultimate mobile device – the vehicle. Ford's Lightweight Concept uses many of the same advanced materials found in today's lightweight electronic devices, including aluminum, chemically toughened glass and advanced lightweight plastics.

Ford engineers took a holistic approach to weight reduction by incorporating advanced materials into the entire design of the vehicle, including powertrain, chassis, body, battery and interior features such as seats. This Lightweight Concept vehicle represents its most comprehensive blend of advanced materials yet in one vehicle, including strategic application of aluminum, ultra-high-strength steels, magnesium and carbon fiber.

The research vehicle was developed with the U.S. Department of Energy's Vehicle Technologies Program, together with Cosma International – a subsidiary of Magna International – to illustrate long-term potential light-weighting solutions. Magna's design and development of the multi-material body-in-white, closures and chassis components are a significant contribution in light-weighting the concept vehicle.

"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."

Other industries have incorporated lighter-weight advanced materials to achieve greater fuel economy, speed and performance. Aviation and aerospace industries – commercial and military – make extensive use of composites structures and mixed materials, including aluminum and carbon fiber, to reduce weight and maximize fuel efficiency. The rail industry makes extensive use of lightweight materials to reduce weight in high-speed and bullet trains. The heavy truck transportation industry uses lightweight materials including aluminum and high-strength steel to improve fuel efficiency.


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  • 43 Comments
      Aaron
      • 6 Months Ago
      Aerodynamics mean more than weight once the car is in motion. With aerodynamic drag losses, you never can get any of that energy back. With weight, you can regenerate a little power from Newton's first law of motion.
        JB
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Aaron
        Yeah, if you forget about rolling resistance.
      John Hoverson
      • 6 Months Ago
      A 50 mile per gallon Fusion would be great!! I'll still only be able to afford a Fiesta though. :(
      Wm
      • 6 Months Ago
      Imagine if the overall car design was actually meant to be weight saving. I would think the 1l EB does not need that much hood. A 2cyl 1l EB would be even smaller and lighter. Also, try making the engine using CGI like the 2.7l EB.
      Revis Goodworth
      • 6 Months Ago
      What an ignorant article. This very blog seems to be dishonest - they report a false story about the New Mustang being 300 pounds overweight and then the source of the article backs off from the claim and now we find that maybe the base Mustang only increases 50 pounds? Removing weight is not a panacea - it is a reality Hondublog - have you even made yourself aware of the new punitive Progressive (Democrat) imposed standards that automakers MUST FACE? Reducing weight has happened repeatedly over the years as automakers rushed to meet the original CAFE standards - that is how we got the dismal 1980's products as reducing weight was the way automakers found they could IMPROVE FUEL ECONOMY in the quickest fashion. You blivet head Honduhblog writers - you CANNOT FIAT TECHNOLOGY - you can't wave your magic honduhfairy wand and come up with more efficient engines and transmissions! What you have now is the synergy of efficient propulsion systems AND weight savngs AND aerodynamics which allows for efficiency on more than one level. Weight has become problematic because of Progressive imposed safety standards (that are sometimes laughable) and the consumer craving for more technology - all of which adds weight. Ford's demonstration effort here addresses all aspects of weight savings and technologies - and it is truly remarkable - it is even - superior to Honduh and the other duh makers from Japan. This is perhaps why the author was so dismissive.
        Vinny68
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Revis Goodworth
        Dude - what are you smoking?
        R.t Voll
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Revis Goodworth
        Hey, A laser comment that doesn't say "Government Motors" Hunduh is new though. Haven't heard that one before.
        Actionable Mango
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Revis Goodworth
        That comment was unreadable.
      ffelix422
      • 6 Months Ago
      DON'T BE FOOLED AUTOBLOG READERS! Ford is trying to distract us from getting an answer on why Steeda says the new Mustang is 300lbs heavier.
        jtav2002
        • 6 Months Ago
        @ffelix422
        Whats there to distract from? Steeda didn't even weigh the car. Besides once the car is released the specs will be out anyway.
      danfred311
      • 6 Months Ago
      They are full of **** as usual. Whenever you mention the F150 without it being scathing criticism in a video about light weighting, you're an idiot. The simple truth is that light weighting is a self fulfilling prophecy. If the car is aimed for half the weight, suddenly you need only half the wheel strength, half the suspension, half the engine. All without using better materials. And instead of cast iron there are high strength steels, the added cost of which is plenty offset by the rest of the car only using half the material. When you use a bs material like carbon fiber for the wheels and dumbass oil pan, it's because you are looking for excuses not to do any of it in practice. Detroit is plagued by murica 'thinking'. This george bush look alike doesn't exactly inspire confidence in the intelligence level. Featuring the moronic F150 in this video is just incredible.
        Chris
        • 6 Months Ago
        @danfred311
        Wow!! Since your level of intelligence is so superior to those of the folks at Ford, maybe you should put in an application and send them your resume, and show them how it's done. And "murica thinking"? What does that even mean? And can you explain just how that has been hurting the Big 3 over the last few years?
          Chris
          • 6 Months Ago
          @Chris
          You're forgetting one minor detail, and that is that many more on the east and west coast live in much more expensive and crowded urban areas than those in the middle of the country. How many of your urban yuppy desk jockey buddies from the swanky downtown coffee shop own farms, boats, campers, construction companies etc etc? In places such as North Carolina, Florida, and Michigan, all of the above are relatively common. The problem with many of you living in cities on the east and west coasts is that you're out of touch in that you think everyone else should live the way you do. Like it or not, there is a need for trucks. Don't believe me? Try hauling construction materials, pulling a boat, hauling a motorcycle to the track, or pulling a camper or far equipment with your Prius. I'll treat you by bringing the oversized bucket of popcorn and soft drinks you can't get in NYC, and we'll have a ball.
          danfred311
          • 6 Months Ago
          @Chris
          You mean the big one, the dead one and the whimpy one now owned by fiat. And unfortunately it hasn't hurt them anywhere near as much as they deserve because they cater to a populace of morons who are so ignorant they like the junk they make. Most pronounced is the mentally ill fascination with oversize pickup trucks they have absolutely no need for. Case in point, the camera angle chosen for the shots of the super doodie F150 in the video. it's a hick poser and USA is so infected with stupidity between the coasts that the whole culture thinks that farm vehicles are status symbols that are great for daily driving. just in case they needed to pull a house off its foundation. murica! land of the retard, home of the facepalm. So intellectually barren is the middle of usa that when global warming awareness had a breakthrough in 2006, central USA gave us the torrent of moronity: global warming denial. In their infinite wisdom, they had concluded that Al Gore had made it all up as part of a taxation scheme. Never mind that he was not at that point part of any government or the fact that taxes are generally for community service and not actual theft. Never mind that man's detrimental effect on the environment due to burning fossil fuels is mentioned in scientific literature more than 100 years ago. Al Gore made it up. Zombiefication was at hand. And so prevalent is the stupidity that Bob Lutz who basically ran the biggest automaker in the world, still to this day 'thinks' that global warming is and I quote "a crock of ****". When USA fornicates seethingly with violent stupidity then it's not hard to be smarter.
        Avinash Machado
        • 6 Months Ago
        @danfred311
        What a huge ego you have.
          Aaron
          • 6 Months Ago
          @Avinash Machado
          He forgot his meds again.
          Chris
          • 6 Months Ago
          @Avinash Machado
          It's Dan Fredericksen, the America bashing Scandinavian eco-nut , rearing his ugly head on here again. Get used to it. He's always like this on AB.
      Kevin
      • 6 Months Ago
      Not accurate Bradford. Wider tires do not increase the contact patch size, it does distribute it differently across the width of the tread. Increased weight does increase contact patch size however, note why drag racers try to transfer a lot of the cars mass to the tires transmitting power.
        domingorobusto
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Kevin
        Did you mean wider wheels? Because wider TIRES definitely increase contact patch size, since the contact patch is just the width of the tread face times the length, which is dictated by the tire OD and how much the tire pressure and tire construction allow the tire to squish. This is why the fastest cars have extremely wide tires. Friction is only part of the equation, there's a lot of micro scale mechanical locking happening, and you can increase that effect directly by increasing the width of the tread face.
        Bryan Rex
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Kevin
        wrong and right, wider tires DO in fact increase the contact patch. Why do you think Drag cars have very very wide tires without treads?
        BipDBo
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Kevin
        "Wider tires do not increase the contact patch size" What are you smoking? Narrower tire most definitely have a smaller contact patch especially considering that modern high mpg narrow tires have a higher air pressure psi than typical.
          BipDBo
          • 6 Months Ago
          @BipDBo
          Sorry, but that's based on a very simple assumption of pressure and force. It does not take into account the complexities of how the rubber flexes. That assumption lives on despite having measured anything. It's just wrong. It's similar to the assumption that since a static friction coefficient between two given materials (rubber tires and asphalt road) is constant and therefore handling ability is irrespective of things like tire width. It seems theoretically correct from a high school physics education, but is obviously not accurate. Here is an article written by somebody who has done the real measurements and has concluded that indeed, wider tires of the similar construction and same PSI do indeed have a larger contact patch. http://www.enginebasics.com/Chassis%20Tuning/Tire%20Contact%20Patch.html It's because a wider tire will have a more uniformly distributed pressure, whereas narrower tires will have more dramatic point loads.
          BipDBo
          • 6 Months Ago
          @BipDBo
          My guess is that you stripped that Citroen of a lot of its weight, so the stock tire width may already be optimal. If the car still had its stock weight, perhaps wider tires would yield better performance. Just guessing. The difference, you're right, is likely pretty small. Most of the time, when tires are widened, it's for looks, not performance. Increasing wheel and tire width, even if it does offer slightly more grip, it also increases aerodynamic drag, total vehicle weight, unsprung weight and rotational inertia.
          BipDBo
          • 6 Months Ago
          @BipDBo
          That link didn't work. Retry: http://www.enginebasics.com/Chassis%20Tuning/Tire%20Contact%20Patch.html http://www.performancesimulations.com/fact-or-fiction-tires-1.htm Also, http://bndtechsource.ucoz.com/index/tire_data_calculator/0-20
          BipDBo
          • 6 Months Ago
          @BipDBo
          I do apologize, though, for saying, "What are you smoking?" It's easy to see the logic in thinking that contact patch area would be the same regardless of width, that as width increases length decreases. That does indeed happen, even though, in general the effect is not enough to make area constant, in general. Before you had posted the road and track, I did not know of the "constant area" common belief. I just assumed.
          Kevin
          • 6 Months Ago
          @BipDBo
          Thanks for the links BipDBo, I'll read into it more this evening. I have personally seen no benefit on skidpad numbers or lap times at the track with my track only C4 adjusting tire width at either end , at some point the differences must be minimal.
      BipDBo
      • 6 Months Ago
      Very nice. They could have saved another 50 lbs by using a manual. It looks like to me, though, that they didn't just build a stripper car. Very few buyers buy manuals, unfortunately. They built a car with all of the features that most buyers would expect in a base model. This article contains a few interesting, in depth infographics. http://www.automobilemag.com/features/news/1406-ford-demonstrates-lightweight-fusion-concept/
      lad
      • 6 Months Ago
      "Build in lightness." Colin Chapman, founder of Lotus, 1952. Sad that it takes Government mandates for car companies to innovate.
        Bryan Rex
        • 6 Months Ago
        @lad
        It is sad... that people on a whole are the ones to blame because they would rather buy cheap junk as long as it looks good.. i.e. Kia/Hyundai, rather then buy American and want to PAY for the innovations. If more people would demand ligher more efficient vehicles, then it would happen... I blame the government for way too much as it is, not going to start blaming them for heavy vehicles.
      dondonel
      • 6 Months Ago
      Haha, bicycle wheels. I bet it has raffia chairs inside :)
      k_m94
      • 6 Months Ago
      Apply the same lightweight construction to the Fiesta, but keep it with the Fiesta ST's performance parts and engine. It wouldn't lose as dramatic an amount of weight, but a sub 2300lb Fiesta ST would be amazing.
      Michael
      • 6 Months Ago
      Should have gone with the 2.0 liter Eco-Boost, that would make it a much more enjoyable ride, and those tiny tires would have to be replaced as well.
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