DEARBORN, MI – Ford shook up the industry when it rolled out its upcoming aluminum-intensive ’15 F-150 pickup at the North American International Auto Show in January.

Now it is moving to take its mass-reduction movement even further with the Ford Lightweight Concept Car it will show off this week at the TechShop conference in San Francisco.

“Whether lightweight steel alloys, aluminum, magnesium, composites or carbon fiber, we’ve been looking at the challenges of bringing these into mass production and making them affordable,” Randy Visintainer, director-Ford Research and Innovation, says at a media event here.

The ’15 F-150, due in the fourth quarter, is 700 lbs. (317 kg) lighter than its predecessor thanks to extensive use of aluminum. It will be one of the first mass-produced vehicles to utilize aluminum to such an extent.

The weight loss is expected to result in better fuel economy and reduced carbon-dioxide emissions without sacrificing the capability of the pickup.

Visintainer says the automaker began intensive research into lightweighting in 2001 following a request by Chairman Bill Ford, who asked his engineering team to determine whether climate change was real and if CO2 emissions were the primary cause.

“We told Bill it is real and our industry and Ford are part of the problem, so we have to be part of the solution,” he says. “People in our industry were in a denial phase.”

Ford engineered a 3-step solution to the problem. First was developing boosted downsized engine technology. Next came aggressive lightweighting, followed by alternative powertrains.

The Ford GT supercar, which launched in 2004, was the first foray into lightweighting. The GT featured an aluminum-spaceframe chassis, carbon-fiber inner rear deck and stamped aluminum panels.

“The lightweighting delivered the technology around advanced materials and manufacturing technology,” says Matt Zaluzec, Ford Technical Leader-Global Materials and Manufacturing Research. “This also was the start of the mixed-material vehicle. It’s about choosing the right material for that particular product.”

Prior to the Ford GT, engineers gained valuable experience working on projects such as the Aluminum Intensive Vehicle program in 1992 followed by development of the Jaguar XJ in 2003.