Carbon-fibre of late has been the material of choice for manufacturers. The material has high tensile strength, low weight and offers more stiffness than conventional steel. The hurdle faced by manufacturers in going for all-out production is the cost. It is currently ridiculously expensive and costs about $20/kg (1224 rupees) as compared to steel which is available at just $1/kg (61 rupees).
The German government has been supporting a research effort which is working on bringing the production cost down drastically, by almost 90 per cent. The company called MAI Carbon Cluster Management GmbH is backed by German auto majors such as Audi and BMW apart from aircraft company Airbus Group NV, engineering firm Siemens and SGL Carbon.
Klaus Drechsler a professor at the Technical University of Munich and head of the $102 million dollar project says, “We’ve certainly reached a halfway point on our cost-cutting target for suitable carbon-fiber parts, we’ll see a lot more carbon-fiber use in the next generation of cars.”
Many auto makers are looking to utilize carbon-fibre in their cars either in the form of small components or the chassis itself. Over time, they wish to replace steel parts with the new material as it weighs almost twice as less.
BMW’s “i” line of cars, comprising of two models the compact i3 and the i8 sports car, has met with good response. These make extensive use of carbon-fibre and according to Herbert Diess, BMWs head of development the technology is “very, very economical” in the i8. He also mentioned that for cheaper vehicles to benefit from this technology will take time but it will happen inevitably.