Ford builds an 800-pounds-lighter Fusion
Willie Grace | 6/11/2014, 3:15 p.m. | Updated on 6/11/2014, 3:15 p.m.
A lighter Ford Fusion, like any lighter car, is something enthusiasts have been championing for years. And on the surface, Fusion Lite sounds like the name of a brand-new soft drink. Fusion Lite, now with less calories! Try Fusion Lite today! It's what plants crave!
But, in fact, the above car, painted up like a Tron taxicab, is known as the Ford Lightweight Concept. That sounds far more scientific. It is built on a 2013 Fusion, a car whose curb weight starts at 3,431 pounds and goes progressively to 3,913 pounds for the Energi.
This Fusion lost about 800 pounds from stock. It weighs in at around 2,600 pounds -- as light as the Ford Fiesta with which it shares its lightweight, 1.0-liter, three-cylinder EcoBoost engine. Thirty percent of the weight savings came from the suspension alone, while 35 percent came from the interior and the glass.
To get those weight savings, Ford threw in every trick it knew. All the yellow areas you see above are aluminum, including the front subframe, the engine block, connecting rods and brake rotors (which are now 38 percent lighter), along with aluminum and magnesium transmission internals. The rear springs are hollow steel, but the front springs are composite plastic, which makes sense when they don't have to prop up as much weight. (The plastic springs are already undergoing durability testing for future applications.)
The windshield is chemically laminated like on a modern cellphone, Ford says. The seats, the oil pan and the entire dashboard are all carbon fiber, as are the wheels -- 19 inches like a regular Fusion, sure, but just 5 inches wide, sourced from Carbon Revolution.
Ford, with the U.S. Department of Energy's Vehicle Technologies Program, has built six Lightweight Concepts. (Automotive supplier Magna helped produce the body and chassis components.) At a cost of untold millions, we can only assume.
Well, at any rate, the lightweight materials aren't going to be cheap enough for mass production just yet. "There's not a one-size-fits-all approach to light-weighting," said Matt Zaluzec, Ford's technical leader for global materials and manufacturing research. "The Lightweight Concept gives us the platform to continue to explore the right mix of materials and applications for future vehicles."
But, of course, the F-150 shed approximately the same poundage from its predecessor as the Lightweight Concept from its Fusion -- the aluminum-bodied truck is 700 pounds lighter. We expect that the lessons Ford will learn from this concept will find their way into sedans, coupes, hatchbacks -- the entire lineup, really. Especially the zaftig, Rubenesque, brobdingnagian Mustang.
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