Ford Motor Co. plans to put its product line on a diet. The maker expects to trim 100s of pounds off the weight of its cars, trucks and crossovers over the next half-decade in a bid to dramatically improve fuel economy.
The move won’t be easy, Ford officials warn. The cuts will come even as consumers demand more content and features – and regulators pack on more safety devices. And the lighter substitutes for conventional materials, like steel, could add to vehicle cost.
“In the mid-term, from now to 2017 or 2018, we’ll remove anywhere from 250 to 700 pounds depending on the vehicle,” said Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s global product chief.
The move attempts to reverse course for Ford, which has faced the same dilemma as its competitors. The typical automobile is today hundreds of pounds heavier than a similar model of a decade ago. That reflects the addition of such creature comforts as onboard navigation systems, 15-speak audio packages and heated leather seats – as well as airbags, advanced braking systems and the complex safety structures required of modern cars.