Paul's Here

2010 Geneva Motor Show

38 posts in this topic

I just want to repeat that Volkswagen Group, through its sexy Lamborghini subsidiary, is in cooperation with Boeing and Washington University in an effort to find a composites technology that's cheaper than carbon fiber for the auto industry. (The two American organizations are considered leaders in composites.) That's why the german giant has funded a lab in the States. While nowhere near conclusive, this makes clear that carbon fiber can't take the future for granted.

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I would venture the guess that Airbus being in Europe (and the A380 being the first majorly CF-structured aircraft) they just set up the factories near the main customer.

But the largest customer is neither the concern that first introduced a plane to integrate substantial amounts of CF in its design, nor the concern that makes the biggest plane almost no one wants. The biggest customer is the concern that uses the most CF. That may be Airbus, but given the next generation of Boeings that are coming and how many have already been sold, it looks like it will be Boeing in the shortterm.

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The carbon fibre industry's main client currently is the aerospace industry. Carbon fibre is the future of the auto industry, but from talking to the market leader's operations director, I understood that they need at least one major auto maker to make the necessary investments in order to be able to scale up production sufficiently to drop the price of CF materials below metallic substitutes.

You never know what innovations or market-responses are just around the corner, but I doubt CF will drop bellow metal prices anytime soon. I also doubt that any composite can match current metal prices, or that a composites-based approach can compete with metal cars anytime soon on price. I believe this even though legislation has basically forced auto makers to use far more expensive alloys while simultaneously making it harder for those alloys to be manufactured.

The only reason mainstream marques are considering CF and scrambling to find other composites options are pollution and energy policies. It has nothing to do with new developments in composites, some sort of shift in the automobile market, complacency or cowardice on the part of the auto industry.

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Just to demonstrate how much more it costs to build with CF right now:

The car has been changed significantly since its inception -- the tubular steel chassis has been replaced by a central carbonfibre and aluminum honeycomb tub -- and this is largely why the price of the 550hp base model has risen dramatically, almost doubling in a year, from 172K [pounds] to 320K. "Unfortunately, quality costs," explains Farboud, [the driving force behind Arash].

(From evo 139.)

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Check out some of these fantastic cars here.

My favorite:

Mansory Rolls-Royce Ghost

Tasteful, classy, refined — the Rolls-Royce Ghost is all of these things. However, the mod from Swiss super tuner Mansory is clearly not. The tuner describes it as "breathtaking individualization," which, to be fair, isn't far from the truth. Purple paint with gold trim certainly isn't shy, and nor are the performance enhancements. The factory Ghost packs a powerful 6.6-liter V12 engine producing 570 horsepower. But Mansory took it even further with its ECU tuning by squeezing an additional 150 horses out of it. The V12 now develops an impressive 720 horsepower and an astounding 752 lb-ft of torque. The result is a Roller that'll sprint from zero to 62 mph in 4.4 seconds and go on to a top speed of 192 mph.

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I want it... I want it...

Not to mention the ABT R8 GTR that is "good for a sprint to 62 mph of 3.2 seconds."

Here's a video of Leno's take on the factory Ghost (13:15)

(Do the rearview mirrors seem a bit off? The EU has decided that the size of rearview mirrors need to be in a specific ratio to the dimensions of the car they're meant for. Looks great, right? I bet they do wonders for km/l and CO2g/km numbers as well.)

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Here's a video of Leno's take on the factory Ghost (13:15)

(Do the rearview mirrors seem a bit off? The EU has decided that the size of rearview mirrors need to be in a specific ratio to the dimensions of the car they're meant for. Looks great, right? I bet they do wonders for km/l and CO2g/km numbers as well.)

Jay's car looks a lot more tasteful. The mirrors are not nice; what is it with the safety Nazis?

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I just read something in evo that makes clear how hard it is to talk about the future prospects of any technology or commodity.

Carbon nanotubes are tiny fibres made from graphene sheet only one atom thick. Yet a 1mm thick cable of nanocarbon could hold the weight if three Range Rovers.

Weight for weight it's over 300 times stronger than steel and can be slightly harder than diamond. It offers the prospect of car shells that weigh less than a bag of sugar and are as strong as a tank. The nanotubes are like building blokes and can be made into materials with a whole range of properties, including high efficiency conductors, which will decimate a modern car's 100kg copper wire burden. It can be made into super efficient bearings, which means tiny motors that again cut out loads of weight from all those powered seats, windows, etc.

The piece goes on to list more applications of this tech, including batteries that are millions of times more efficient than the lithium ion units just getting into sports cars.

Problem?

In trying to assure its readers that automobile performance will not be lost to the legislation triggered by GW hysteria, evo misses several key points, including how much more performance would be enabled by these technologies if the EU hadn't made CO2 into the devil, how much money is being wasted in the premature if not unnecessary pursuit of these technologies, and, more importantly, the fact that no matter what we do control freaks will always find justifications to thwart us.

(I couldn't finish this particular issue of evo because it treats fuel cells like some sort of panacea in several sections. Where will the fuel for fuel cells come from? Aren't the materials for these alternative energy technologies finite? What of the fact that water vapor is The Greenhouse Gas? What of the fact that these EU policies are ineffective responses to basically made-up issues? If this is where this magazine's new, out-of-nowhere Editor is taking this magazine, I'm most certainly out. (L)

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More on the viability of carbon fibre in more mainstream cars:

Additionally, Felisa confirmed that Ferrari will use carbon fiber to lower the weight of the Enzo replacement. “We will only use carbon fiber on very special cars which have a very low rate of production and which are not for everyday use, such as the new Enzo,” he said.

Besides confirming that Ferrari will continue to use lots of carbon fiber in its supercars as it did on the Enzo and F50, this shows Ferrari won’t follow rival McLaren’s example of using carbon fiber in its “everyday” cars. McLaren uses a carbon fiber monocoque in its latest MP4-12C roadgoing car. Both BMW and Mercedes-Benz have committed to using carbon fiber extensively in the future as well.

“The fact is that nobody today has a real understanding of what happens if you damage a carbon fiber structure. After 20 or 30 years of use, who knows what state a carbon fiber structure will be in?” Felisa gave as his reason behind limiting the use of carbon fiber to Ferrari’s exotic supercars.

Nothing decimates like off the wall regulation.

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Nothing decimates like off the wall regulation.

Yup.

Back in the days when I studied these things, I wrote a paper (long since lost in the depth of the department) showing a $820 (if I recall well) increase in purchase price in the average low-priced car between 2001 and 2006 just from increased safety regulations. Weight increase was fairly substantial as well.

I love cars like the Caterham, cars that basically go right against this spirit of shielding the user in ever increasing depths of safety layers.

FWIW, in cycling carbon frames have a very low resell value on eBay compared to aluminium or steel, because on metal frames it is very easy to see damage (and relatively hard to damage the frame in a way that renders it dangerous, and then conceal the damage). On the other hand, a used carbon frame can sometimes just break in the middle of a ride because carbon does not behave like a metal (with higher toughness, a longer plastic region, etc.)

It's kind of like a hard drive disk. Sometimes you can drop it on the floor and it's fine. Sometimes you bump your desk and the disk is dead. That's the problem with carbon.

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We've talked about carbon fiber's future in automotive engineering in this thread. One of the points that's come up is how difficult it is for anyone to predict the next big tech. Part of that is the overall impact government has in our lives. A good deal of it, however, is built into free minds thinking.

Panoz has announced that they're about to start using a composite material that has major advantages over carbon fiber, not the least of which is a lower price (CF prices are out of control for the usual reasons. See above.)

Who's Panoz?

A tiny, relatively obscure boutique car maker in the States that uses Ford powerplants for its upscale products.

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Panoz are more well known for their leadership and participation in the American Le Mans Series than anything else. Yet, here they are legitimately challenging the idea that CF will have its way in the short, mid- and long-term.

BTW: Penoz won their class at the 2010 Le Mans, an incredible achievement for a concern of any size.

http://www.panozauto.com/

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Once again, we see how silly it is to think we can predict how techs will develop:

Lamborghini and Callaway teamed up together to develop a new way of using carbon fiber that helps open the door to making parts that may once have been too complex to do using traditional methods. The outcome is called Forged Composite and it’s already being used in Callaway golf clubs as well as Lamborghini’s Sesto Elemento concept car.

Rather than laying up carbon fiber in sheets and impregnating it with resin like your typical carbon fiber manufacturing, Forged Composite uses a paste of fibers (500,000 turbostratic fibers per square inch) mixed with resin that is squeezed out to make almost any shape. Since the fibers aren’t oriented in any particular direction, the finished part is strong all around, while remaining light. While we don’t know for sure, our initial thought is that a part made of Forged Composite may be strong, it is not as structurally strong as a traditional carbon fiber part (Any experts, please comment).

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