The Germans are trying to make your next car carbon.
Although it has become widely accepted as one of the current best available materials in the automotive world – reserved for the finest sports cars and carrying a heavy premium – carbon fiber has yet to begin trickling down to mass-produced, rationally-priced models. But according to a recent report on Automotive News, all that may soon change, thanks to research that's being backed by the German federal government, BMW, Audi and other companies and institutions from the land of the Autobahn.
The MAI Carbon Cluster Management GmbH is a research effort that is quickly moving towards lowering the price of carbon fiber from its current $20 per kilogram (versus $1 for steel). "The key is to really drive automation [in production]," Klaus Drechsler, head of the project, told Auto News. "There are different scenarios about how carmakers can use carbon fiber - extensively like BMW, with a carbon-fiber chassis, or with smaller components." If the venture succeeds, this could mean that your next car, no matter its price class, could include at least some components made from this desirable material.