WARREN, MI, October 20, 1999 — Ford Motor Company will work with the U.S. Department of Defense to develop lightweight, fuel-efficient technologies for potential use in tactical trucks for tomorrow’s army. Representatives from the Department of Defense and Ford signed the two-year $11.2 million non-procurement contract today at the U.S. Army Tank Automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) National Automotive Center.
The Improved Materials and Powertrain Architectures for 21st Century Trucks (IMPACT) program is aimed at developing lightweight, corrosion-resistant trucks for commercial and military use. Program participants hope the lightweight trucks will yield significant fuel economy and cost benefits compared to current military tactical trucks.
The IMPACT program will focus on the use of high-strength steel, laser-welded blanks and improved bonding to significantly reduce the weight of a Ford F-150 pickup truck for potential military application. These technologies could be used to improve fuel economy of trucks in high-volume manufacturing programs. “Lightweight vehicles have significant consumer advantages in terms of fuel economy and dynamic performance,” said Neil Ressler, vice president, Research Vehicle Technology. “These same advantages can make lightweight trucks appealing to the military.”
Lightweight trucks would have substantial cost benefits for the military. Lighter trucks will reduce fuel requirements on the road and during air shipment. Improved corrosion resistance will result in a longer service life with less maintenance. Also, tactical trucks based on commercial vehicles will significantly reduce vehicle cost compared to purpose-built vehicles.
After successful completion of the initial phase, the program participants plan to extend the lightweight and mobility technologies to the F250/F350 platforms.
Ford Motor Company is an industry leader in developing lightweight vehicles. In Ford’s P2000 lightweight vehicle platform, aluminum is used extensively for major components such as the body and frame. Additionally, carbon fiber, magnesium and titanium are used in a variety of parts for further weight savings. In IMPACT, Ford is studying the potential of using primarily steel, a more affordable material to achieve near P2000 weight reductions.
The program is being sponsored by the TACOM’s National Automotive Center. Major program participants include Ford Motor Company, the American Iron and Steel Institute, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Mississippi State University and the University of Louisville.