Manufacturing electric cars The lighter drive The Economist

9 Апр 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Manufacturing electric cars The lighter drive The Economist отключены
BMW Electric Cars

Electric cars made carbon fibre will be and go farther

They look in there

MARK WEBBER has a lot to tiny strands of carbon When his Formula 1 car cartwheeled in a 306kph (190mph) crash at the Valencia Grand Prix, helped him to escape unscathed was the strong carbon-fibre “tub” racing drivers now sit in. Carbon is an expensive alternative to making in steel or aluminium, but besides extremely strong it is also light. It is found in high-performance like aircraft wings, of supercars and the frames of pricey bikes.

But if work by Germany s BMW successful, it could also the material of choice to mass-produce cars.

The Bavarian carmaker plans to a new plug-in electric car in 2013. It be one of the first designed from to use an electric motor rather being converted from an model. Reducing the weight of four-seater car, known as the concept, will be crucial to its performance and range. So BMW is planning to use no at all.

The Megacity will be as two modules: an aluminium chassis contain the electric drive-system and and a body made almost of carbon fibre will be onto it.

Carbon fibre is 30% than aluminium and 50% lighter steel. The fibres are extremely When woven into a structure and impregnated with they can produce a part is stronger than steel.

The trouble is the process is labour-intensive and not least because components may to be cured for hours under in massive ovens called For carmakers, used to stamping out body-parts in a few seconds, this has out carbon fibre for high-volume BMW, however, aims to that.

In this section


Its production line with a so-called precursor: a spun from a polymer. is carbonised by heating it in multiple to leave individual carbon just seven microns millimetres) thick. Around of these fibres are bundled into a yarn which is made into a fabric. can be cut and handled like a textile.

Strips of fabric are then to align their fibres in a way to maximise their load-bearing as required—in effect tailoring like a bespoke suit.

come the robots

BMW Electric Cars

BMW uses heat and pressure to produce in the fabric. Resin is then into the molds to bond the together. How the resin flows the fibres is crucial; it has to be done and leave no area untreated it starts to cure. A release in the resin migrates to the surface to the component sticking in the mold.

The whole process, which can be by robots, is completed in minutes.

The carbon-fibre parts are bonded to construct the body of the car. their lightness, BMW s experimental have exceeded expectations in tests, says the company. front- and rear-impact-tests the aluminium crumples to absorb energy, but the rigid carbon-fibre passenger intact. Even extreme protected the crash dummies and the (automatically switched off when the trigger).

In many cases crash is reparable by cutting out broken of carbon fibre and bonding in new

At some point, however, cars will be scrapped. and aluminium is easy to recycle, but fibre is tricky. Carmakers are with aerospace firms on to do it.

BMW has pioneered a process to reuse by breaking them up with to turn them back raw material. This can be used to composites with about the strength of new carbon fibre.

advantage of a carbon-fibre body is it will not corrode. So, apart the battery wearing out in ten years or so, cars could last for (electric motors need servicing). This will it even harder for car designers to those driving electrically to in their rustless, tough-as-old-boots for a new model.

BMW Electric Cars
BMW Electric Cars

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