Mercedes to use Carbon Fiber Body Parts to Reduce Vehicle Weight & Increase Fuel Efficiency
To help meet upcoming CAFE standards, Daimler will be using carbon fiber body parts for their Mercedes-Benz SL-Class cars beginning in 2012. Following the trend set by BMW earlier this year, Daimler will team with Japanese textile company Toray Industries to make plastic auto body parts that are reinforced with carbon fiber to reduce the vehicle's weight.
Studies by Lotus determined that lightweight materials can reduce the mass of the vehicle by 33 percent, resulting in a fuel consumption reduction of up to 23 percent. The carbon fiber reinforced plastic is expensive, but can be justified to compensate the added weight of batteries needed for electric cars like BMW's Megacity Vehicle.
Though Toray dominates the industry with 34 percent of the market on carbon fibers, this will be their first contract to supply body parts to auto manufacturers, although they have provided carbon fiber yarns to various auto makers, including Ferrari. The Mercedes auto body parts will be manufactured in France at the Toray facility there.
image credit: Mercedes