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Carbon fiber often occupies the limelight as a light weight material that could take some of the heft out of our cars, and thus improve fuel efficiency -- if only it cost less. But alloys of magnesium, the lightest structural metal, have a history in automotive components tracing back to the 1930s. Now the U.S. government is hoping to jump-start innovative production of the material for use in cars.

BMW and Mercedes are leading the way in using carbon fiber to reduce weight in future passenger vehicles. Losing pounds can also be key to meet upcoming CAFE regulations and can also help increase the range electric vehicles can travel. The shift towards carbon fiber will probably become more widespread throughout the automotive industry as companies realize the weight-saving benefits of this product versus steel. Though carbon fiber is touted for its low weight, a new report by Toyota and repor

2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG – Click above for high-res image gallery

2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG – Click above for high-res image gallery

2020 Toyota Venza as realized by Lotus – Click above for high-res image gallery

As car makers strive to meet increased CAFE standards, a lot of cars will be getting both lighter and more aerodynamic. While aluminum and carbon fiber grab a lot of the lightweight headlines, there's no getting around the fact that cars are going to be made out of steel for a long time to come. So it's no surprise that the steel industry is out to prove that it, too, can be a source for relatively lightweight and aerodynamic products. This week's entry: three new wheel design's that are intende

Audi Sportback Concept - Click above for a high-res image gallery

One of the keys to saving fuel is being light. However, the latest technologies in safety and the array of power accessories we all have in our cars all add weight to our cars, hurting fuel economy while they make driving more comfortable and save lives. Of course, technology has helped us recover some fuel economy, but nothing beats a low scale presence to help make your car a fuel sipper. When you click after the jump, we'll show you a list of Europe's 15 lightest cars. They're all under the 1

The cars built off of Audi's "B8" platform, including the A4 sedan, A5 coupe and their derivatives, have much to recommend them. Light weight is not among those characteristics. The lowest mass four cylinder front wheel drive A4 sedan weighs in at nearly 3,600 pounds and the V8-powered AWD S5 runs nearly 4,100 pounds. For mid-sized cars of very reasonable dimensions, these are prodigious numbers. Of course, modern safety regulations feed into this as does the continuing proliferation of feature

Click above for a gallery of the Subaru R1e in New York