Ford has showcased a prototype carbon fibre bonnet it claims could help lower fuel consumption.

The carbon fibre reinforced plastic Ford Focus bonnet displayed at the Composites Europe event in Düsseldorf, Germany, is constructed from material usually associated with bespoke racing vehicles or high-performance sports cars.

The prototype bonnet weighs 50% less than a standard steel version. As a result of progress made during a research project involving engineers from the Ford European Research Centre, production time for an individual carbon fibre bonnet is fast enough to be employed on a production line, a move Ford maintains is a significant step towards increased usage of lightweight materials in its vehicles.

“It’s no secret reducing a vehicle’s weight can deliver major benefits for fuel consumption, but a process for fast and affordable production of carbon fibre automotive parts in large numbers has never been available,” said Ford European research centre, advanced materials and processes research engineer, Inga Wehmeyer.

“By partnering with materials experts through the Hightech.NRW research project, Ford is working to develop a solution that supports cost efficient manufacturing of carbon fibre components.”