Carbon Fiber F-150? Don’t Count On It Soon

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In order to reach fuel efficiency targets, the 2015 Ford F-150 needed to lose some weight. Switching from a steel body to an aluminum body was a great way to reduce weight. Around 700 lbs was saved on the normal truck, and 500 lbs from the 2017 Raptor. But what about carbon fiber? Is that in the pipeline?

A report out of the Nikkei in Japan speculates that carbon fiber could be used more heavily in normal automotive production as a way to save weight. Carbon fiber reinforced plastic is already used on exotic cars, due to the strength and weight. But it’d take a lot to make it into a mass-produced vehicle like the F-150.

To help offset the cost of going to aluminum, Ford had to buy a huge amount of it. They also had to figure out a way to recycle the scrap and use it in production. Combined with some intelligent engineering, the new truck doesn’t cost more because it’s aluminum, and repair costs are similar.

Carbon fiber is still expensive. The benefits of quantity of scale can’t be exploited yet. Plus, there’s no effective and efficient way to recycle carbon fiber.

Aluminum was made to work, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see other manufacturers using more of it in the future. But for the time being, carbon fiber in large quantities will stay in the higher-end vehicles.

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Chad Kirchner is a regular contributor to Corvette Forum and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other auto sites.

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