Carbon Fibre – shaping the automotive industry

Not just reserved for cutting-edge Formula 1 cars, Carbon fibre is also making a large impact on the automotive industry as a whole, with composite materials increasing in popularity and slowly progressing into mainstream markets.

We take a look at three recent uses of carbon fibre and why the material was chosen for the task.

2017 Toyota Prius Prime

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Due for release next year, this plug-in hybrid uses an 8.8kwh battery with a 22 mile electric-only range. Although an impressive upgrade on the previous model (which had only 12), the extra weight of the larger battery required savings to be made in other areas. Toyota used carbon fibre for the rear hatch, which saved around 8lbs and increased the fuel efficiency of the vehicle. Composite materials offer a weight-saving attribute without compromising the structural integrity of their traditional counterparts.

BMW 7-Series

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The 2016 BMW 7-series uses carbon fibre strategically throughout the chassis. The material is present in the A, B and C pillars and roof of the vehicle—which not only conserves weight but also reduces chassis flex. This, along with a lower centre of gravity from the lighter roof, helps to improve handling. As one material in a complex project, carbon fibre components can be used to improve performance through clever application and engineering.

Ford Ecoboost engine

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In a concept unveiled earlier this year at the Detroit Motor Show, Ford’s next generation lightweight Ecoboost units are due to have a 15.5% overall weight deduction. Carbon fibre is to be used in the cylinder head, front cover and oil pan which also improves NVH. Although often thought of in a more structural context, carbon fibre has knock-on benefits that can result in improvements to drive comfort.

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