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Ford CEO Alan Mulally, at the unveiling of the 2015 Mustang in December in New York, has made weight reduction a priority for Ford’s new products.
Photo credit: REUTERS
Future Product Pipeline
Ford Motor Co. has pledged to reduce the weight of its vehicles with each redesign. The next Mustang may fall short of that goal.
Steeda Autosports Inc., a Florida-based Mustang modifier with access to Ford technical information, says the 2015 model will be as much as 300 pounds heavier than the outgoing car when it reaches dealerships this fall. Steeda says on its Web site that it is working on a series of parts to help reduce the 2015 model’s weight.
“Our work is cut out for us because unbeknown to most Mustang aficionados (and not ‘officially’ confirmed by Ford for obvious reasons), the 2015 Mustang ended up gaining 200-300 pounds in this remake,” the company said.
“And with weight being the ‘enemy of performance,’ there are plenty of challenges needed to ensure that the 2015 iteration of America’s favorite Pony Car isn’t left at the starting line spinning its wheels against the competition.”
Ford spokesman Brian Cotter declined to comment on the 2015 Mustang’s weight.
“We set some pretty aggressive performance targets for the car, and we’re confident that we’ll meet them,” he said. Cotter said Ford has not released the car’s weight to any outside companies.
Since the new Mustang was unveiled in December, Ford officials haven’t commented specifically on the car’s weight. The company has issued many specs for the new car but not curb weight.
Independent rear suspension
A likely cause of the weight gain is the new independent rear suspension system, which replaces the old-fashioned live axle. Although handling performance is improved with the independent rear suspension set-up, the increased number of parts typically adds weight to a car.
AutoPacific analyst Dave Sullivan says the new Mustang likely got heavier for a number of reasons. Tougher roof-crush standards meant using more steel in the car’s body, for example, and there are more safety and electronic features.
But Sullivan said he believes replacing the live axle rear suspension is responsible for most of the Mustang’s weight gain.
“That was always one of the reasons the Mustang was lighter than the [Chevrolet] Camaro,” he said.
The current-generation Mustang that went on sale in 2005 with a V-6 engine and a five-speed manual transmission weighed 3,350 pounds, while the current-generation Camaro V-6 that debuted in 2006 weighed 3,780 pounds.
Chevrolet is working to cut the Camaro’s weight to improve handling and fuel economy.
Glen Vitale, vice president of operations at Steeda, said today the company has no 2015 Mustangs yet, but it is working on four show cars for the Specialty Equipment Market Association Show in November in Las Vegas. Ford shares technical data with suppliers that build SEMA show cars, but it is unclear if curb weights are part of the technical data.
Asked how Steeda knew that the Mustang’s weight had increased, Vitale said: “We know this based on past experience working on [independent rear suspension]-equipped Mustangs and industry trends.”
Ford has said the new Mustang’s independent rear suspension is new and not based on previous versions sold on some Mustang Cobra models.
The independent rear suspension system lets each rear wheel move up and down separately when the car is driven over bumps or when it makes sharp turns. On a live axle car, the entire axle tilts when the wheels encounter uneven pavement.
“Though it is a different system, we’ve determined what we foresee as a weight gain,” Vitale said.
Steeda, along with Roush Performance Products Inc., Saleen Automotive Inc. and several smaller companies, modifies Mustangs with high-performance body and mechanical parts designed to reduce weight and improve aerodynamics and handling.
Weight could be a thorny issue. For the first time since the early 1990s, Ford’s performance car will be available with a four-cylinder engine.
Ford has struggled to meet its weight reduction targets before. The redesigned 2011 Explorer and 2012 Escape, for example, fell short of the goal CEO Alan Mulally set when he took over.
“Targeted vehicle weight reductions will range from 250 to 750 pounds, depending on the segment — without compromising safety. Substantial vehicle weight reductions will enable us to use smaller displacement engines that provide secondary efficiencies, such as lighter chassis and suspension components. They, in turn, lower vehicle weight even further,” Mulally said in the company’s 2007 sustainability report.
Ford likely will hit its weight reduction goal with the 2015 F-150, The pickup’s aluminum body is expected to reduce weight by 700 pounds on some models.
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