The 2016 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit featured a number of innovative vehicles that utilize composites, including the 2017 Honda Ridgeline, Audi’s 2016 H-Tron Quattro, and the 2017 Lexus LC 500.
For the 2017 Ridgeline, Honda has incorporated “in-bed” technology into the design. The bed itself, which is covered with a non-slip coating, is made out of UV-light-stabilized sheet molding composites, which makes it dent-resistant and corrosion-resistant. Automotive blog Motor Trend reports the design is considered to be much more rugged than the prior fiberglass design.
The bed also features a dual-action tailgate, a 400-watt AC power inverter and the industry’s first in-bed audio system. Honda claims that the Ridgeline will be the only mid-size truck with 48 inches of flat floor space between the wheel arches. Its maximum payload is estimated at nearly 1600 pounds.
Audi’s 2016 H-Tron Quattro also incorporates lighter materials that reduce the weight and improve performance, responsiveness, service life and efficiency. The concept vehicle’s lithium ion battery delivers a boost of up to 100 kWh (kilowatt hour), while the combined power of its fuel cell and battery are driven by two electric motors — one in the front axle and one in the rear axle. The car features three hydrogen tanks underneath the passenger side. Every tank is made up of several layers, and the inner tank contains gas-tight polyamide, which is wrapped in carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) and glass fiber. The three tanks can hold up to 700 bars of pressure (approx. 10,000 psi).
The LC 500 features weight-saving materials such as carbon composite doors and a carbon fiber roof. Underpinning the LC is an all new structure that includes CFRP. In total composites help the car achieve a 52:48 weight distribution ratio among the axles (50:50 is considered perfect). Recently, Motor Trend gave a preview of the 2018 model of the car, noting the inner doors and roof will also be CFRP and the trunklid will be resin with a sheet molded composite.