Automotive manufacturers are already OCD about stripping weight from a car's chassis, body and interior by using exotic materials, but why not the engine itself? Obvious, isn't it? Well, Ford has had a go, and the results are not to be sniffed at.
Based on its diddiest little 1.0-liter EcoBoost unit, the prototype engine was shown sliced in half at the 2016 North American International Auto Show.
Engineers focused on five main components: the cylinder block, the cylinder head, the connecting rods, the front cover and the oil pan, resulting in an overall weight saving of 15.5% or 13kg. Doesn't sound like much, we know, but Ford claims an improvement in fuel economy of around 4.5%. Oh, you're listening now.
While the front cover, the oil pan and the cam-carrier are all made from injection-molded carbon fiber, the connecting rods are actually switched to forged aluminum, and the cylinder block to aluminum with powder metal inserts on the important load paths.
The question is: When can you buy one fitted to your Fiesta or Focus? Well, Ford wouldn't commit to a date, but the technology is complete and works like a dream. The key is putting the injection-molded carbon fiber into mass production, thus eliminating the labor element and instantly driving costs through the floor.
Could this be the technology that helps us enjoy the combustion engine for a little longer?
NOTE: This article originally appeared on TopGear.com. Minor tweaks have been made.