The price of carbonfiber has been dropping significantly due to production advances that enabled suppliers to hasten its finicky and expensive curing process.
This is why it is increasingly attracting the attention of automakers that want to reduce the weight of their vehicles. Carbon-fiber auto parts are made more affordable because of a technological breakthrough that’s related to a process to build carbon-fiber golf clubs.
In terms of cost, carbon fiber isn’t comparable to steel or aluminum but it’s 50% lighter than conventional steel, and it is 30% lighter than aluminum. Because of this weight advantage plus its strength, it’s ideal for electric cars, sports cars and luxury cars. A carbon-fiber shell will be used by BMW AG's i3 electric car that makes its debut in 2013.
BMW will produce 30,000 units of this model annually. General Motors is expected to expand the use of carbon fiber in its 2014 Chevrolet Corvette. Daimler AG entered a joint venture with Japan's Toray Industries Inc. to build carbon-fiber components for the 2012 Mercedes-Benz SL.
Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A. and Boeing Co. also entered a joint venture to cut the cost of carbon fiber used in a monocoque, or unibody construction, for the Sesto Elemento concept car. As a result, Lamborghini has turned into a carbon-fiber laboratory for Volkswagen AG, its corporate parent.