With stricter 2012-2016 fuel economy standards quickly creeping up on automakers, research and development departments industry-wide are looking for innovative technologies to improve fuel economy and reduce CO2 emissions. But while hybrids and electric vehicles provide the largest wow factor, most powertrains in the near term will be of the internal combustion variety, so Ford is looking to shed pounds as well.

TheDetroitBureau.com reports that Ford is looking to trim between 250 and 700 pounds from each of its vehicles by 2017 or 2018. That's an impressive total given the fact that added safety measures and more technology have contributed to the bloated scale-breakers we have today, and an aluminum hood or high strength steel can only make up some of that distance. Engineering Chief Derrick Kuzak tells TDB that "weight reduction starts with new platforms." That means aluminum and carbon fiber chassis components and lighter frames.

With the cost of aluminum far exceeding that of steel, using the lightweight material could be a costly endeavor. Kuzak believes the answer could be carbon fiber, but to use the strong, light material, Ford must "improve manufacturability and reduce costs."

Cutting several hundred pounds from a vehicle will no-doubt cut fuel consumption and substantially improve performance, and the efficiency gains can be two-fold. Kuzak points out that lighter vehicles can be fitted with smaller, more efficient engines, giving the vehicles a second bump in fuel economy. Lighter vehicles could also lead to improved EVs as well, as less battery power would be needed to propel a vehicle, which leads to more miles per charge.

We're all for lighter and more efficient vehicles, and we're wondering whether it's too early to put in an order for a 2,600-pound Mustang GT. Okay, so the largest weight loss is likely for the trucks and SUVs, but we can dream, right?

[Source: TheDetroitBureau.com]

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