Reduces mass by 34 percent compared to a steel equivalent.

Reducing the weight of a car is probably the most natural way to achieve lower fuel consumption. These days, manufacturers are using several procedures to lower the curb weight, including smaller engines made of aluminum, optimized chassis components, lightweight materials for the body structure, carbon fiber body panels, and more.

The next major step is using carbon fiber composite subframe, a key part of a vehicle’s structure, where the engine is mounted. Magna has revealed a prototype featuring such a detail, which reduces mass by 34 percent compared to a stamped steel equivalent.

Developed in cooperation with Ford, the subframe uses only a few parts, as 45 steel parts have been replaced with two molded and four metallic components. In total, a dramatic 87 percent reduction in the number of components has been achieved.

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According to Magna, the design of the subframe has passed all performance requirements based on computer-aided engineering (CAE) analyses. The company is currently producing examples of the subframe, which will be tested in several Ford vehicles.

“When we are able to work in close partnership with a customer at the beginning of their design and engineering processes, it's an opportunity to bring our full Magna capabilities to bear," Grahame Burrow, President of Magna Exteriors, commented. "We are able to take a clean-sheet approach with design, materials and processing, collaborate with the customer and within our product groups, and deliver a solution with the potential to really move the needle in terms of aggressive lightweighting without sacrificing styling or performance."

During the test phase, engineers will evaluate corrosion, stone chipping and bolt load retention, which can’t be measured through computer-simulated analysis. Also, the specialists will develop manufacturing and assembly processes, as well as recommended design, with “the experience gained during the prototype build and subsequent testing.”

Source: Magna and Ford

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