The Ford Motor Company [NYSE:F] has made no secret of the fact it wants cheap, high-volume carbon fiber.
Ever-encroaching efficiency and safety standards mean cars at every price point need to be lighter and stronger—without becoming prohibitively expensive—and swapping steel components for featherweight carbon fiber units could go a long way in slimming down its stable.
That said, there's plenty of glass on a car, and you can't exactly make a windscreen out of carbon fiber.
So as a recent Automotive News (subscription required) story points out, automakers like Ford have begun to look at lightweight solutions. And Corning, which supplies its high-strength, light-weight Gorilla Glass to mobile device manufactures, is a natural place to turn.
BMW already employs Gorilla Glass in its innovative i8, and given that it reduces the typical windscreen's weight by up to 30 percent, the migration from traditional solutions will become a given for performance vehicles, where dropping every extra pound is a priority.
The rub, as always, comes with the cost.
The chemical process which gives Gorilla Glass its strength is more expensive that conventional soda-glazing, so finding a production technique which both allows automakers to exploit its advantages and meet automotive standards—without becoming too pricey—will be key. As you'd expect, experiments with hybrid compounds are already underway.
And given the industry's demand for glass, its clear widespread adoption isn't a matter of if, but when.