Ford’s materials of mass decompounding
Ever since Ford intensively used aluminum for the body of its F-Series, the American carmaker is a proponent in – how Ford calls reducing vehicle weight – “mass decompounding”. Automotive World talks to Matt Zaluzec, Ford’s Technical Leader for Global Materials and Manufacturing Research on his perspective on lightweight materials.
The Ford portfolio offers a variety of different cars, so there cannot be the one lightweighting strategy. Instead, Ford approves of the use of application-specific materials that are compatible with supply and demand. For example, Ford sells up to 750-800,000 units of the F-series named above. There is not enough carbon fiber supply to fix this demand. But there is enough aluminum.
The right material for the right product
But still, Zaluzec’s motto in reducing weight sounds simple: “Design it right, apply the right material on the right product at the right time, and put that together with the right powertrain.”
With this approach of looking at the entire vehicle as a closed system, the consumer will not only purchase a beautiful, powerful car. He will get an efficient one, too, as lighter weight goes hand in hand with CO2 reduction and fuel economy improvements. And this is what consumers care about! According to Zaluzec, customers generally benefit from lightweighting, but their eyes lay upon the price, fuel economy and the comfort features. Zaluzec even states that „if we’ve done our job right“, customers will buy the car because of it’s great look and durability, but never because it’s lightweight.