Ford has revealed a special new version of its new Mondeo (‘Fusion’ in the US market) that hints at huge weight-savings in the next generation.
Externally, there’s little to tell this concept apart from a regular 2015 Mondeo - X-Ray graphics notwithstanding. But inside, engineers have hidden a Ford Fiesta.
Well, sort of. Working with researchers at the US Department of Energy and private firm Cosma, Ford says it has cut the Mondeo’s weight down by almost 25 percent.
That means this special Mondeo is around 380kg lighter, giving the midsized sedan a kerb weight very close to the 1100kg Fiesta light hatch.
This project follows a weight-loss program to lighten the new F-150 truck, which is around 320kg lighter than its predecessor thanks to the use of aluminium alloys and high-strength steel in its construction.
Likewise, the Lightweight Concept benefits from a host of super-light materials that include carbon-fibre and aluminium, magnesium, special plastics and chemically strengthened glass.
Contributing to the weight-savings are aluminium brake rotors behind carbon-fibre wheels, composite springs and a carbon-fibre oil pan.
There are also carbon-fibre seats, and regular trim materials have been replaced by lighter substitutes including foamed plastic.
And because the body is so much lighter, Ford was able to use its tiny 1.0 litre three-cylinder EcoBoost engine to save 24 percent weight in the powertrain alone.
It wasn’t just a straight swap though, with the use of hollow steel crankshafts, forged aluminium connecting rods, and aluminium and magnesium transmission components also ‘adding lightness’ to the concept.
All of this, Ford says, was undertaken with a view to considering potential production applications down the road.
“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’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to light-weighting. The Lightweight Concept gives us the platform to continue to explore the right mix of materials and applications for future vehicles.”
As for the regular Mondeo, the Australian market will finally see the new range next year.
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