Magna has delivered a prototype of its advanced carbon fiber subframe to Ford and has plans for the component to be put into mass production by the end of the year.
The subframe has been installed in the front of a Ford Fusion sedan and acts as a cradle for the engine and wheels. It weighs 34 per cent less than a usual metal subframe and uses two molded and four metallic parts to replace 45 steel parts.
Magna and Ford started developing the subframe in early 2017 as a way to test the use of carbon fiber in the structural parts of a vehicle.
In a statement issued to Automotive News, Magna’s global product line director for lightweight composites, Andrew Swikowski, said neither Magna or Ford know whether or not the technology is ready for production.
“We delivered a series of parts to the customer at the end of last year, and they’ve already started component testing. By the end of the year, we’ll know whether the technology is ready for production or not,” Swikowski said.
Beyond its weight-saving properties, using a carbon fiber subframe reduces tooling investment by a considerable 30 to 40 per cent.
As carbon fiber cannot absorb impacts as well as metal, the subframe has been designed to drop the engine below the vehicle in the event of a crash. Consequently, the subframe would be used alongside high-strength steel if it does make its way into production.