The automotive world is no stranger to Carbon Fibre; the super strong, yet lightweight, material has been used for years on racing cars and, in more recent history, it has slowly moved into performance and supercar production. The material is now utilised on nearly all supercars and can form anything from small interior elements to the entire body.
Carbon Fibre's almost exclusive use in only the racing and performance sectors has been due to the high expense of the material; 2.2 pounds of raw material being worth £12 as appose to £0.61 for the same amount of steel. A new project, however, aims to find ways of manufacturing the material in a cost effective way.
The £63million research effort, which is supported by the German Federal Government, is being conducted by MAI Carbon Cluster Management GmbH. With backing from more than 70 companies, including Audi and BMW, the project say that they will be able to reduce Carbon Fibre prices by 90% and will make the material more accessible throughout all levels of the automotive industry.
Talking about their work Klaus Drechsler, Head of the Project, said:
“We've certainly reached a halfway point on our cost-cutting target for suitable carbon fibre parts. We'll see a lot more carbon fibre use in the next generation of cars…..The key is to really drive automation."
BMW are already using Carbon Fibre reinforced plastic on their new small electric car – the i3. This is one of the first uses of the material as a major part of a car that isn't a high-end sports or racing car; with reduced manufacturing costs, we could see this method being used by various brands in the future. Reduced weight will not only allow for better performance but will also allow for various advancements in fields such as reduced emissions.