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Ford and Magna reveal lightweight concept car

New materials make this version of Ford Fusion 25 percent lighter


June 16, 2014
by Canadian Automotive Review Staff

TROY, Michigan—Magna International Inc and Ford Motor Company have unveiled a multi-material lightweight vehicle (MMLV) concept that uses advanced material solutions to achieve a nearly 25 percent weight reduction compared to the current production vehicle.  The Magna-led R&D activity, in cooperation with Ford, is co-funded by the US Department of Energy (DOE).

The project includes engineering, prototype vehicle build and selected validation testing associated with a new aluminum-intensive passenger vehicle design architecture, facilitating an extensive use of advanced lightweight and high-strength materials, resulting in environmental and fuel economy benefits.

The multi-material lightweight vehicle concept is based on the production version of a 2013 Ford Fusion and defines a new aluminum-intensive passenger car structure. The concept reduces the weight of the Fusion to that of a 2013 Ford Fiesta, making the weight of a C/D segment family sedan approximately equal to that of a subcompact B-car—two vehicle segments lighter—without compromising  performance or occupant safety.

“Government mandated fuel economy and crash standards are big topics in the automotive industry, and as a supplier we play a significant role partnering with our customers to achieve fuel efficiency goals through lightweight vehicle structures that meet such safety standards,” said Swamy Kotagiri, Magna Chief Technical Officer. “Through early collaborative involvement, like with the MMLV project, we are better positioned to assist our customers in optimizing their products and meeting the challenges of future mobility.”

“Our goal was to investigate how to design and build a mixed-materials, lightweight vehicle that could potentially be produced in high volume, while providing the same level of safety, durability and toughness as our vehicles on the road today,” said Matt Zaluzec, Ford technical leader, Global Materials and Manufacturing Research. “There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to light-weighting. The research vehicle gives us the platform to continue to explore the right mix of materials and applications for future vehicles.”

The MMLV concept vehicle is part of the US DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Office lightweight materials project portfolio, addressing future CAFE fuel economy legislation. Vehma International, an engineering and prototype division within the Cosma International operating unit of Magna, manufactured and integrated the multi-material body-in-white, closures, chassis and bumper components. Ford supplied the vehicles and weight-optimized powertrain, tires/wheels, suspension, interiors, glass and seating to build drivable vehicles for test and evaluation.