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 |  Apr 12 2012, 7:32 AM

Already several years into a switch to more efficient EcoBoost engines, the next big move for the Ford Motor Company in the fight to reach increasingly strict fuel economy targets is to significantly reduce the weight of its vehicles.

To help meet those goals the American automaker has today announced a partnership with Dow Automotive Systems to develop low cost, light weight carbon fiber vehicle components.

The goal, says Ford, is to help shed as much as 750 pounds per vehicle by the end of the decade. While carbon fiber is used by a few smaller automakers or in limited production vehicles, Ford’s plan is to integrate the light-weight yet ultra-strong material into its mainstream volume products.

“There are two ways to reduce energy use in vehicles: improving the conversion efficiency of fuels to motion and reducing the amount of work that powertrains need to do,” said Paul Mascarenas, Ford chief technical officer and VP of Research and Innovation. “Ford is tackling the conversion problem primarily through downsizing engines with EcoBoost and electrification while mass reduction and improved aerodynamics are keys to reducing the workload.”

Reducing weight, says Florian Schattenmann, head of R&D for Dow Automotive Systems, is, “particularly critical to improving the range of plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles.”

Ford and Dow will work together to create an affordable way to source carbon fiber as well as a low cost method to integrate it into volume vehicles.

If successful, the use of carbon fiber components on volume cars like the Focus, Fusion and Mustang could happen by the end of the decade.