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The composite structure is 34 percent lighter than steel, with an 87 percent reduction in the number of parts.

Magna and Ford have co-developed a carbon fiber subframe that is both lighter and simpler than a traditional steel assembly.

The prototype subframe replaces 45 steel parts with two molded parts and four metallic mount points, slashing the overall part count by 87 percent. The moldings are joined by adhesive bonding and structural rivets.

Magna suggests the composite component is 34 percent lighter than a stamped steel equivalent, apparently without sacrificing structural rigidity or crash performance.

Magna is currently producing the carbon subframes for continued development testing at Ford. The automaker will evaluate corrosion, stone chipping and bolt load retention -- factors that are not already estimated via computer-aided engineering analyses.

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Ford has not mentioned which vehicle may be the first to get a carbon-fiber subframe.