It’s well known that Ford has gone to great lengths to shave weight off its new 2015 F-150, but it looks like the same strategy could be applied to a greater portion of its lineup in the future. On Wednesday, Ford revealed a project it’s been working on that takes the same weight-shedding concept but applies it to the popular Fusion sedan, resulting in a nearly 25 percent weight reduction, the company said.
Under the hood, Ford installed its new 1.0 liter EcoBoost engine, which, if you’ll remember, weighs only about 215 pounds with all its supplementary parts. This allows the Fusion to be more readily compared to the smaller Fiesta, at least as far as weight is concerned. The lightest Fusion available to the public at the moment comes in at about 3,320 pounds, while this concept weighs a feather-like 2,500 pounds.
“Consumers today want better fuel efficiency, but they also want more technology and features in the car, which usually adds weight to the vehicle,” said Raj Nair, vice president of Global Product Development, in Ford’s statement. “A focus on light-weighting will be fundamental to our industry for years to come, and we are investigating many advanced materials applications as possible solutions for weight reduction in our vehicles.”
The same approach when applied to the F-150 should save about 700 pounds off the curb weight of the vehicle. That translates into 700 more pounds of payload that the truck can pull, since the engine won’t need to haul around as much truck. Massive weight-saving efforts are often undertaken on performance cars and especially high-end supercars, but are rarely applied in such measures to average commuter vehicles.
Ford’s lightweight project has been underway for about 25 years now: It’s the research program that resulted in the Aluminum Intensive Vehicle program in 1992 and the all-aluminum high-performance Ford GT in 2005, the company said.
“Ford engineers took a holistic approach to weight reduction by incorporating advanced materials into the entire design of the vehicle, including powertrain, chassis, body, battery and interior features such as seats,” the company said in its press release. “This Lightweight Concept vehicle represents its most comprehensive blend of advanced materials yet in one vehicle, including strategic application of aluminum, ultra-high-strength steels, magnesium and carbon fiber.”
“There’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to light-weighting,” said Matt Zaluzec, Ford’s technical leader of Global Materials and Manufacturing Research. “The Lightweight Concept gives us the platform to continue to explore the right mix of materials and applications for future vehicles.”
He added: “Our goal was to investigate how to design and build a mixed-materials, lightweight vehicle that could potentially be produced in high volume, while providing the same level of safety, durability and toughness as our vehicles on the road today.”
Ford’s lightweight approach could be especially beneficial for models like the Fiesta ST, its hot hatch that competes directly with the likes of the Volkswagen GTI. The Fiesta ST made our list of the fastest cars that you can buy for less than $30,000, as did its big brother, the Focus ST. Here are a couple of other contenders – you can check out what else made the cut here.
Ford Fiesta ST
Tied with the Mazda for horsepower at 197, the Ford (NYSE:F) Fiesta follows a similar strategy of ensuring that that power is put to the ground as efficiently as possible to maximize the fun factor. At $21,400, it’s cheaper than a Volkswagen GTI and is a worthy contender on all fronts. Power is supplied from Ford’s 1.6 liter EcoBoost inline-four, and routed through a six-speed manual, as it should be. It’s also been given ST-unique sport suspension and Recaro sport seats, upping the ante even more.
Mercedes-Benz CLA Class
Chances are you’ll never find a new Mercedes CLA Class for under $30,000. Nonetheless, its starting MSRP is $29,900, so it’s technically under $30,000. It’s a cheap shot, we know (and not the only one we’ll take for this list), but a sub-$30,000 Mercedes is too good to pass up. It’s the brand’s most affordable model and still features 208 horsepower thanks to a superb turbocharged inline-four. A jaunt through Mercedes’s options menu can send the price well beyond $40K, but on paper, it’s still a sub-$30K Mercedes.
The sleek and sporty Scion (NYSE:TM) FR-S has quickly become a driver favorite around the country. The FR-S certainly brings fun and speed to the table, getting 200 horsepower from its 2.0 liter, four-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed transmission. Drivers also love the available paddle shifters, giving the feeling of being behind the wheel of a much more expensive sports car. The FR-S comes with a price tag of roughly $25,000, but for that price, consumers will get more than their money’s worth with the driving experience that this car can deliver.