What you're looking at is a Ford Fusion. It looks like perfectly average, mid-sized sedan on first glance (albeit with silly graphics), but what it actually is, is the future of driving for the average American family. And that's because Ford managed to put it on a diet, to the tune of a massive 800-pound weight loss.
A regular Ford Fusion weighs about 3400 pounds. This one weighs about 2600. It's like taking an extremely large person, plus their motorcycle, out of the trunk. It's huge.
To put that in perspective, it weighs about the same as a Ford Fiesta, with a small dog in the passenger seat.
And Ford accomplished most of it through the tried-and-true method of replacing almost every piece of steel they could with aluminum. It helped the company take 700 pounds out of the 2015 Ford F-150, and in the Fusion application the car is 23% lighter than the standard model, according to Raj Nair, a FoMoCo VP of Product Development.
Of course, the car isn't lighter just from some new sheet metal. The wheels are made out of carbon fiber, as are the seats and a lot of interior components. The steel coil springs, the crankshaft, and the stabilizer bars are hollow.
The back window is made out of plastic, and the side windows and front windshield are made out of hybrid, chemically-toughened laminate glass, which saves 35% more weight than the standard method.
Basically, they used all the methods that sports car and supercar companies like Porsche, Ferrari, and Koenigsegg use to make their insane dream machines shoot you into warp speed, and put them on a Ford Fusion.
But instead of making the Fusion go into hyperspace, all of these weight savings enabled Ford to take the old engine out, and throw in a little 1.0-liter, three-cylinder EcoBoost, while maintaining similar performance. So what you end up getting is a Ford Fusion that is much more fun to throw around, plus it gets the same gas mileage as the Fiesta, with up to 45 MPG on the highway.
And it's not even a hybrid.
So if you were wondering how car companies could meet increasingly stringent emissions standards, while stopping the ever-fattening spiral of vehicular weight, this is how they're going to do it.
Of course, this whole concept is just a research model, not meant to see production in its current form. It was developed with a grant U.S. Department of Energy's Vehicle Technologies Program, together with Cosma International – a subsidiary of Magna International to study long-term efficiency solutions. When Ford's done with it, they're going to crash-test it, just to make sure all this lightweight stuff really works.
But that doesn't mean you shouldn't be seeing something like it on the roads in the future.
And you should be over the moon about that. For years, we've lamented the demise of light, chuckable cars, like the original Mini, or the Volkswagen GTI Mark I. Maybe with all this new tech, we might one day see the light at the end of this incredibly heavy tunnel.
Huge HUGE thanks to Damon Lavrinc, who helped put together this report!
Topshot credit: Ford. All other photos credit Damon Lavrinc/Jalopnik