Ford has set a target of at least 250 lbs, which it aims to cut from the company’s future vehicles in order to help meet increasingly strict emissions regulations and extend fuel economy. News of the plan was unveiled during a technology seminar at the company’s Advance Engineering Center in Dearborn, MI. The timeline isn’t exact, but Ford has set this goal as a part of its “mid-term strategy” which stretches from 2011 to 2020.
Even more surprising is that some models will far exceed that number, weighing up to 750 lbs less. Those vehicles are likely to be larger models, like the Ford trucks.
The weight-reduction strategy is part of a four-pronged process that also includes using more efficient design, technology and aerodynamics to achieve Ford’s new goal to, “establish fuel economy leadership in every segment,” says Sue Cischke, Ford Group VP for Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering. Cischke also said it is Ford’s goal to make fuel economy a major deciding factor for consumers to choose a Ford product.
In terms of design, Ford is referring more to the design of vehicle components than the physical shape of its cars. In this area company engineers are looking to further the use of low rolling resistance tires; creating transmissions and software that will keep an engine in the highest possible gear without affecting ride quality; and also developing electric systems that produce less drag on the engine and battery.
In terms of aerodynamics, Ford’s plans include further use of underbody trays as well as air vents that can be closed at speed in order to reduce drag. On top of those measures, engineers are also committed to working hand-in-hand with designers from the earliest stages in order to maximize the efficiency of the vehicle’s physical shape.
Finally, technology will also be a large part of the company’s new fuel-economy plan. Items highlighted by Ford include the ability to shut off fuel delivery during deceleration and further use of electric power steering, which is projected to go from 32 percent of the Ford lineup currently, to over 80 percent in 2013.
In addition, there is also the planned increasing use of Ford’s EcoBoost turbocharged engines across the product range – a rollout that will compliment the reduced vehicle weight. Ford says that its direct-injection EcoBoost technology allows for engine downsizing of roughly 40 percent, something that will aid in meeting the lofty 250 lb per vehicle weight reduction target. With a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 currently offered in vehicles like the Taurus SHO, Flex and several Lincolns, look for the introduction of a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder EcoBoost model, which would be used in vehicles like the Fusion and Escape.