BMW look set to limit the use of carbon fibre, turning instead to lightweight steels to keep profits high.
The German auto maker has invested heavily in carbon fibre production and, while its stronger and lighter than other traditional materials like aluminium and steel, it’s also vastly more expensive, which leaves the company with tough choices on how to remain profitable as it’s competition closes in.
One of the options being looked at is bonding carbon fibre with other lightweight steels to reduce weight without dramatically increasing the cost.
Oliver Zipse, BMW’s board member responsible for manufacturing said;
The main equation is how much cost do I spend for a kilogram reduction in weight. It is not about one material it is about the combination of materials.
Back in 2013 BMW announced the launch of two cars which heavily featured carbon fibre. The €45,000 i3 city car and the i8 hybrid which featured a passenger cell made entirely of carbon fibre. Sales of BMW’s i3 electric car failed to get going which, analysts say is in part down to the use of carbon fibre which has made the vehicle too expensive.
BMW faces stiff competition in the electric car market as Tesla, owned by its German rivals Daimler AG, plans to launch its new electric car models for around $35,000, and have already received up to 400,000 pre-orders.
The cost of carbon fibre is expected to reduce as the use of the material increases and BMW has strategically positioned itself in pole position by investing almost 2 billion euros in advanced lightweight composite technologies.