3010. Love/Hate Relationship with Lightweight Technology


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Thomas Sweder: 3010. Love/Hate Relationship with Lightweight Technology. 2000.



Ford is accelerating its drive to put high value lightweight components on vehicles. The new LS has nearly 460 pounds of aluminum compared to about 250 pounds on most vehicles that size. Some of the more interesting new items are the suspension components that are made using the latest forming technologies. Lightweight suspension components not only make the vehicle light but they improve the responsiveness of the vehicle dramatically. We are using the LS learning on other new vehicles including SUV?s
Composites were a key reason we are able to offer the Sport Trac. The composite box, which Ford first put into limited production in 1989, offers both a weight savings and toughness.
Open the hood of the Focus and you will see a unique radiator support that is plastic with molded-in steel braces ? another industry first.
The automotive industry is under constant pressure from our customers, competitors, and governmental bodies to improve our products. To respond to this pressure, we must work with our suppliers to introduce new technology as we did in the LS, Sport Trac, and Focus. But bringing in new technology is often a torturous process. Suppliers must understand what the main drivers are for using new technology so when they work with program teams they can respond properly to the invariable ups and downs of enthusiasm.


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