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Ford Focus to get the carbonfibre treatment in the future

It’s good to see the majority of the car making industry looking into different ways of reducing the fuel consumption of their vehicles, and Ford has recently unveiled a prototype carbonfibre bonnet for the Ford Focus which could aid in that goal for future models.

This new projected Ford Focus bonnet will be made up of carbonfibre reinforced plastic – CFRP – fifty percent lighter than a standard steel bonnet, a material usually associated with very high-end performance vehicles from such manufacturers like Ferrari and Lamborghini.

Now we all know that carbonfibre has a plethora of advantage over steel, but let’s just sum them by saying the following: it is up to five times stronger than steel – depending on the composition and manufacturing method, it is twice as stiff as steel and more crucially it is just one-third the weight of steel. And Ford plans to drop a total of 340 kilograms from their Ford Focus by the end of the decade, and carbonfibre is the way to go.

The prototype bonnet is made with a very innovative type of construction method, with a foam core being sandwiched between two layers of the CFRP, the foam core has allowed the bonnet – despite the stiffness of the carbonfibre – to perform well in pedestrian protection head-impact tests.

It’s interesting to note that even though the technology required to manufacture the bonnet is still undergoing development – a joint project between Ford European Research Centre engineers and materials experts from the German Hightech.NRW project which is state funded, the carmaker has said that the production time for each individual bonnet, as it stands today, is already fast enough to be employed on a production line – it takes only fifteen minutes to manufacture.

The idea behind reducing a vehicle’s weight and thus reducing its fuel consumption isn’t exactly rocket science to get a grasp on, however the problem with employing carbonfibre in a large scale manufacturing process has always been more or less impossible because there has been no effective way of manufacturing such components in a fast and affordable way. However, this is where Ford is concentrating its efforts, with the help of the German engineers.

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