Canadian Plastics

Magna teams up with Ford to build lightweight carbon fibre subframe

March 15, 2017   Canadian Plastics

Canadian auto parts supplier Magna International Inc. has partnered with Ford Motor Company to develop a prototype carbon fibre composite subframe that reduces mass by 34 per cent from a stamped steel equivalent.

By replacing 45 steel parts with two molded and four metallic parts, the prototype subframe achieves an 87 per cent reduction in the number of parts. The moldings are joined by adhesive bonding and structural rivets.

In a statement, Aurora, Ont.-based Magna said it worked with Ford to investigate potential benefits and technical challenges of using carbon fibre reinforced composites in chassis.


The carbon fibre subframe is the result of a research and development project between Magna and Ford to investigate potential mass-reduction benefits and technical challenges of using carbon fibre reinforced composites in chassis applications.

In its statement, Magna said the design has passed all performance requirements based on computer-aided engineering (CAE) analyses. The prototype subframes are now being produced by Magna for component and vehicle-level testing at Ford.

“Collaboration is the key to success in designing lightweight components that can give our customers fuel economy improvements without compromising ride and handling, durability or safety,” said Mike Whitens, Director of Vehicle Enterprise Systems within Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. “We must continue to work hard to achieve these lightweight solutions at the most affordable costs. Magna and Ford working together on this carbon fibre composite subframe is a great example of collaboration on advanced materials.”

The testing phase will evaluate corrosion, stone chipping and bolt load retention, which aren’t currently measured by CAE. The project team will also develop a recommended design, manufacturing and assembly process with the experience gained during the prototype build and subsequent testing.

“We’ve been a pioneer in the use of lightweight materials for many years now,” said Grahame Burrow, president of Magna Exteriors. “First we launched the CF hood for the Cadillac CTS/ATS-V series, followed by a carbon fiber grille opening reinforcement for the Mustang Shelby Cobra GT500. Applying our expertise now to a structural component like the subframe is another step forward as we continue to help our OEM partners meet their goals.”

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