As a possible way to reduce vehicle weight, Ford has teamed up with Magna International to develop a carbon fiber composite subframe. This carbon subframe saves about 34 percent over the mass of a standard stamped steel counterpart.
The subframe itself is one of the largest single components of the car outside of its base framing. It’s where the engine and steering rack and front axle all connect to the vehicle and is often one of the heaviest parts of the car outside of the drivetrain. Mass reduction here not only reduces the overall weight of the car, but also reduces weight at the front of the car, aiding in creating a more balanced vehicle between the axles.
The prototype from Magna replaces 45 steel parts of the subframe with two molded and four metallic parts, simplifying the structure and its costs of assembly. Adhesive bonding and structural rivets join the parts themselves, also saving production time and costs.
This carbon fiber subframe project is part of an overall development plan by Ford and Magna to investigate options for replacing steel components with carbon fiber throughout a vehicle’s chassis.
Prototypes of the new subframe have been built and are being used in Ford vehicle prototypes for durability testing.