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Using consumer electronics tech to make cars lighter, more efficient: Ford says why not?

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They started putting consumer electronic technology in cars a while back, so it was just a matter of time before they started using it to actually make cars.

That is where Ford is headed as a recent partnership with Samsung SDI will see the pair take technologies used in personal electronics, hybrid cars and even aerospace and apply them in upcoming auto releases.

Ford is specifically looking at taking a pair of technologies that have been used successfully in hybrid cars -- lithium-ion batteries (yes, the same ones found in smartphones and laptops) and regenerative brakes -- and applying them to new vehicles.

At an event in San Francisco the automaker also showed off an experimental version of its Fusion midsize vehicle. Using this technology, the company claims it can cut the car's weight by more than 23 percent. Ford says the technology it is using, in tandem with Samsung SDI, can also cut down on gasoline use, which cuts the emissions that environmentalists blame for global warming.

"This goes straight to the heart of a better environment, lower CO2 emissions, better economy," said Kumar Galhotra, Ford's vice president of engineering, at an event in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood. "And we do it while providing features people want."

Ford's changes to the car's structure include adding carbon fiber in the wheels, seats and dashboard and using thinner, chemically treated glass in the windshield and door windows. And the vehicle's interior trim is made of plastic foam. Ford says it has also taken almost 700 pounds out of the F-150 using similar tech.

Another technological breakthrough can be found in the aforementioned braking system as, Ford explains, the regenerative brakes capture kinetic energy that is otherwise lost when a car brakes and that energy is then converted to electricity for storage.

Samsung SDI's Mike O'Sullivan, vice president of automotive battery systems, explains that his company has cut the weight of its lithium-ion batteries by 50 percent, yet was able to double the energy density.

"There is a massive convergence between consumer products and automotive technology," O'Sullivan said.

Sales of the Ford Fusion have been going quite well for the automaker as Fusion recorded its best month ever this year, breaking last year's then-record-setting May performance, selling close to 40,000 cars. The biggest increase was in the West, where Fusion sales grew by some 42 percent.

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