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Ford vehicles to get lighter

Ford Motor Co. has announced that it plans to make each of its cars and trucks 250 to 750 pounds lighter by 2020.

Ford car 2012 04 15Enlarge
Thai models pose next to a Ford Focus on display at the 33rd Bangkok International Motor Show in Thailand on Mar. 27, 2012. (PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/Getty Images)

Ford Motor Co. has announced that it plans to make each of its cars and trucks 250 to 750 pounds lighter by 2020, USA Today reported.

A lighter car is a more energy efficient car, which the automaker expects will become increasingly important to consumers as oil prices rise and fuel economy standards get stricter, Reuters reported.

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The Obama administration wants car companies to increase the average fuel efficiency of their cars and trucks to 54.5 miles per gallon by the 2025 model year, Reuters reported.

"Reducing weight will benefit the efficiency of every Ford vehicle," Paul Mascarenas, Ford's chief technical officer, said, according to Reuters. "However, it's particularly critical to improving the range of plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles."

To drop weight, Ford has reduced the size of its engines, and it also plans to use lighter materials, USA Today reported. One potential new material is carbon fiber, which is 10 times stronger than regular grade steel but one-quarter of the weight, Reuters reported. Ford has launched a partnership with Dow Chemical to develop a cheaper way to source carbon fiber and manufacture carbon fiber components, USA Today reported.

According to Reuters:

Using carbon fiber in lieu of conventional steel can lower the weight of a vehicle component by up to 50 percent, according to the US Department of Energy. Cutting a car's weight by 10 percent can improve fuel economy by as much as 8 percent.

"Vehicle weight reduction for our customers through intelligent design with a materials focus has been a priority for Dow Automotive Systems," Florian Schattenmann, director of research and development for Dow Automotive Systems, told USA Today. "This partnership with Ford on carbon fiber composites is a logical next step to progress already achieved through the use of lightweight, high-strength polymers and structural bonding technology." Dow works with Turkish company AKSA and the US Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory to produce its carbon fiber, USA Today reported.

General Motors Co. inked a similar deal with Teijin Ltd. in 2011 to develop carbon fiber composites for GM vehicles, Reuters reported.

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