The U.S. government and North America's Big Three automakers are sinking a combined $70 million into researching lightweight materials for cars and trucks.
The Department of Energy, General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG created the U.S. Automotive Materials Partnership to operate under an already-established, larger research group, the United States Council for Automotive Research.
USAMP's focus will be finding materials and technology that can reduce vehicle weight without compromising reliability, durability and safety, consortium members said in a July 14 news release.
The bulk of the research will be into metals, such as high-strength steel, aluminum, magnesium and titanium for use in vehicle frames, bodies, powertrain and engine components. But plastics also will get attention, especially carbon fiber and other composites that could reduce component weight.
Carmakers noted they already are using some lightweight composites, with carbon fiber on Chrysler's ME 412 and Jeep Hurricane concept vehicles, and in GM's Chevrolet Corvette Z06; other composites are used for body panels on Ford's Aston Martin cars.