Next week’s Los Angeles Auto Show (December 1-10, 2017) will be the launching point for a number of new vehicle models, including many featuring composite materials. Among the most highly anticipated models making their debuts are Audi’s fourth-generation A8 and BMW’s i8 Roadster.
For the 2019 model of the A8, Audi is employing a mix of four materials – CFRP composites, aluminum, steel and magnesium, in the body structure, known as the Audi Space Frame (ASF). While most of the car will be made of different alloys, carbon fiber will be used to strengthen certain areas while keeping weight down, such as in the B-pillars and the rear panel of the vehicle. The CFRP rear panel is the largest component in the occupant cell of the A8.
According to Audi, the CFRP rear panel comprises 33 percent of the torsional rigidity of the total vehicle. In order to ensure the vehicle can absorb loads and shearing forces, between six and 19 fiber layers are placed on top of each other.
These individual fiber layers consist of tapes 50 millimeters (0.2 in) wide and can be placed individually in a finished layered panel, with any desired fiber angle and minimal trimming of the fibers. The OEM’s direct-fiber-layering process developed for specifically for this purpose eliminates the need to manufacture entire sheets of carbon fiber. Using another newly developed process, the layered panel is wetted with epoxy resin and cured within minutes.
This chassis technology and usage is very similar to the setup developed for the 7 Series BMW, known as “Carbon Core.” According to BMW supplier SGL Group, Carbon Core technology “leads to substantial weight reduction and also helps to further enhance the driving dynamics by lowering the vehicle’s center of gravity.”
Carbon fiber composites will also play a critical role in the new i8 Roadster. The single-piece carbon fiber passenger cell will contribute to the vehicle’s rigidity and dynamics. According to BMW Blog, the i8 Roadster will receive a revised chassis tuning and an increase in power to around 400 hp, while larger updates are also expected for the infotainment system iDrive as well as a modernized range of assistance systems. The Roadster will also have double the current driving range of the current i8.
For more updates from the Los Angeles Auto Show, visit https://laautoshow.com/.