While we often look back to the 1960s and 70s as an age when cars got bigger and heavier, these days cars of every make and model are packing on the pounds. This is no bueno, as more weight means less performance and worse fuel economy. This has automakers looking for ways to shed the weight, without sacrificing style or size.
This week Ford unveiled its latest project to the world, the officially-named Carbon Fiber Reinforced Hood. While not a pure carbon fiber part, it is half the weight of standard steel and just as strong, meaning some serious cost savings for vehicles from the lowly Fiesta all the way to the Shelby GT500.
One of the biggest knocks against the current crop of American muscle cars is their weight. Even the Mustang, among the lightest of the bunch, still tips the scales around 3,700 pounds depending on options. Ford would like to get that number down closer to 3,000 pounds, to improve both fuel economy and performance.
The Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic hood uses a manufacturing method that is much faster than pure carbon fiber. This would allow the material to be employed en masse, though starting with something as heavy as the hood is a smart first step. While standard carbon fiber is five times as strong and just one-third the weight of steel, the CFRP hood is just half as light, but just as strong as standard steel.
Might Ford be the first manufacturer to bring carbon fiber to the masses? If so, how long before the Mustang gets some of that weight-loss lovin’?