10 composite innovations in the automotive industry

Composites are changing the future of car building in ways that we possibly never imagined.

Here are 10 of the most exciting new developments of composites in cars (and you can view the cars here.)

1. Lola-Drayson B12/69EV. Packed full of recycled composite materials, this car is designed to show off the potential of green technologies in the motorsport industry. Lola want it to be driven in the FIA Formula E World Championship Series for electric cars in 2013. It will be interesting to see how it performs.

2. BMW i8 Spyder. Featuring a carbon fibre reinforced plastic Life Module (the place where the driver and passenger sit in case you were wondering), this plug-in hybrid is no slouch. It goes from 0 to 100 km/hour in just five seconds and has a top speed of 250 km/hour. Plus, it looks great.

3. Honda Civic. No ordinary Civic, this one races in the British Touring Car Championship and has already recorded victories. The car features Amber Composites prepreg for a variety of structural and body parts including the front crash structure, side impact panels and door panels. Therefore it needs to be tough.

4. BioMobile.ch. When a car runs on plant waste, it makes you sit up and take notice. When the body is made from bio-composites based on banana fibre, Greenline renewable reinforcements and a resin derived from pine wood, it makes you think, wow …

5. Lamborghini Aventador J. There may be only one of these ever produced but the Aventador J makes the future look rosy for composites in cars. The structure is based on a monocoque made from carbon fibre reinforced plastic for starters. It’s incredibly light – even the seats are made of Forged Composite with inserts of flexible carbon fibre fabrics.

6. TEEWAVE AR1. Weighing just 846 kg including the battery, this electric-powered sports car features carbon fibre composite monocoque chassis, crash structures, body and interior, designed by Japanese carbon fibre manufacturer Toray. Thought up by the United Kingdom’s Gordon Murray Design, this is an Anglo-Japanese project to keep an eye on.

7. Volvo XC60 RR. Not only are composites being used on the race track, they are also going off-road. Sweden’s Pewano team tackled the 2012 Dakar Rally in a car built with a carbon fibre composite body. Unfortunately, a fire gutted the Volvo during a stage in Argentina despite the driver reporting hours of “faultless driving.” It will be back in 2013.

Want to see the cars?

You can see what all these cars look like in this Reinforced Plastics Facebook Album.

8. DeLorean DMC-EV. Forget Back to the Future, this DeLorean is firmly waving goodbye to the past with its composite body. The original steel casing is gone, saving a whopping 200 lbs in weight. Production is due in 2013 but it will be sometime before the DeLorean is ready for time travel too …

9. Formtech E1. It’s all very well racing around in a composite-packed sports car but what about when you need to get a bit of shopping in? The E1 electric vehicle is designed to be used as a second car and, with lightweight composites in use and its compact size, it could soon become as familiar a sight as the Smart Car.

10. GTA Spano. This car is not just a sports car, it’s a super sports car that is packed with composites. The Advanced Composites Group (ACG) has provided tooling, automotive body panel system and high visual quality prepregs. Oh, and it looks wonderful. I’m in love.

What innovations involving composites in cars get you excited?