Ford follows the lead of dragsters

In drag racing, acceleration is critical, as even shaving a few hundredths of a second can mean the difference between a successful race and a total dud. That’s why many dragsters look to improve the performance of their vehicles by installing carbon fiber parts. After all, it works for Formula One racing.

However, while it may be common knowledge that carbon fiber can lead to faster speeds on the track, one major U.S. automaker is hoping that the technology will allow it to achieve the federal fuel economy guidelines that have been set forth in recent years.

On April 12, Ford Motor Company indicated that it would work to increase the amount of carbon fiber it uses it its cars and trucks, Reuters reports. The move will be part of a joint venture with Dow Chemical Company, a leading specialty chemical provider, and would likely mean that Ford could start using components made from this material in consumer cars by the end of the decade.

But, unlike dragsters, who favor carbon fiber for speed, Ford’s motivation is based on compliance with fuel standards. By adopting these parts, Ford says it hopes to reduce the weight of its products by between 250 and 750 pounds, the news source indicates. This in turn will reduce strain on the engine and allow Ford models to achieve a greater average miles per gallon for its vehicles in time for the rise in fuel efficiency standards in 2025.

Over the next 13 years, Ford – and many other automakers – need to increase their average fuel economy. As of 2011, the average car gets only around 23 miles per gallon, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. By 2015, the government mandate will be more than 50 miles per gallon.

However, while the move is sure to please those looking to protect the environment only time will tell if the Dow deal will allow Ford to craft models that are high on performance for car lovers as well.