Ford technologies have been grabbing headlines across Europe this week. Media have been reporting on Ford research into carbon fibre body panels, plus the sound symposer that makes Focus ST even more rewarding to drive. There’s also significant coverage of Ford Fiesta winning a UK fuel economy marathon.
Auto Express Online (UK) is one of several publications highlighting Ford research into carbon fibre body panels. It reports: “Ford has developed a carbon fibre bonnet for the current Focus which weighs less that 50 per cent of the current steel equivalent.... Ford plans to use the material to reduce the weight of its cars by up to 340kg by the end of the decade. Ford’s lightweight body panel project began in 2010 and sought to develop carbon fibre composite panels that were cheap, finished to a high standard, weighed less than 50 per cent of their steel equivalent and could be incorporated on a current production line.
The prototype Ford Focus bonnet also meets Ford’s standards for crash performance. Ford claims that the bonnet has also performed well in pedestrian protection head-impact tests, thanks to a special foam core sandwiched between two layers of CFRP.”
German website Autoevolution.com adds: “Ford is working to develop a solution that supports cost efficient manufacturing of carbon fibre components. They will be investing heavily in the development of this technology, as they plan to shed some 340 kg on average from their entire range, by 2020. Carbon fibre is one third the weight of steel, five times stronger and twice as stiff, so the only downside to its use is the cost. This is a very interesting development, and we were honestly wondering when carbon fibre would end up being more mainstream, as is the case with most good ideas, first used on expensive cars.”
Italy’s Omniauto.it announces: “On their quest to produce lighter cars, automakers will use components made of composite materials. Ford believes firmly in this future and recently demonstrated a carbon fibre hood on a Focus prototype. Developed by the automaker’s European Research Centre in partnership with Dow Automotive Systems, the carbon fibre hood weighs less than half of its steel equivalent. Its production times are significantly shorter as well. According to Ford, this composite material could be used for other parts of the car to reduce its weight, thereby improving fuel economy and extending the range of future electric vehicles. It’s all part of Ford’s goal to make its cars 340kg lighter by 2020.”
Meanwhile, Edmunds Inside Line (Europe & America) is impressed with Ford’s sound symposer technology, as fitted to Focus ST: “The Sound Symposer was developed for use with the new 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine. Ford says the device enables the driver to hear a "sportier" roar in the cabin under heavy acceleration. The Sound Symposer switches back to a quiet mode under moderate acceleration. Edmunds says: A clever device that keeps the driver happy, but doesn't offend the cops or other drivers.”
Gemany’s Auto Strassenverkehr agrees: “As far as its engine sound is concerned, it does not need to shy away from a comparison with the previous model either. The true five-cylinder sound cannot be reproduced, but a “Sound Symposer” ducts some of the intake into the interior, which is likely to put a smile on those who get to drive a new ST. A four-cylinder engine can hardly sound any better.”
Lastly, UK media have been amazed at the fuel consumption figures achieved by a Fiesta 1.6 TDCi ECOnetic during a recent fuel economy marathon. Carkeys.co.uk reports: “For years, competitors in the MPG Marathon organised by Fleet World magazine have been trying to achieve an average of over 100mpg in two days of real-world driving, but so far with no success.
The 2012 event was different. Two cars achieved three-figure fuel economy over a 370-miles route in the Cotswolds and south Wales, and it's a sign of how much development manufacturers have been putting in to this kind of thing that both of them were perfectly straightforward hatchbacks rather than special vehicles. The first to record more than 100mpg was a Kia Rio 1.1 CRDi eco, which managed 102.21mpg, only to be beaten by the phenomenal 108.78mpg of a Ford Fiesta 1.6 TDCi ECOnetic.”
Motorward.com (UK) adds: “Peugeot was pretty impressed with its 90-mpg 208 at this year’s MPG Marathon, but then along came the new Ford Fiesta ECOnetic setting an amazing record of 108.78 mpg. The car did that in a 370-mile route through the hills of South Wales and the Cotswolds was made more challenging by a bridge collapse and a traffic light failure along the way. So yes, it was real-life condition! Of course you are not going to 108 mpg in your daily commute. Ford’s official figure is 85.6 mpg and emissions of 87g per kmCO2. If a hypermiler can get 108 mpg out of it, you should be able to hit 85 mpg easy peasy. To achieve that record, the ECOnetic combines start/Stop technology, combustion and calibration improvements, smart regenerative charging and revised gear ratios among other enhancements. Ford also brought along a Focus Titanium 1.0 EcoBoost that did 61.93 mpg, and a Transit Custom T270 that did 56.04 mpg. Both those figures are considerably better than last year’s records, which shows Ford’s fuel saving strategies have been successful.”