Economy Comes to Carbon Fiber Parts (?)
Have economies of scale come to the production of automotive parts with carbon fiber materials?
That seems to be the world from Carbon Revolution, a privately owned Australian company that provides one-piece carbon fiber wheels to Ford for the Shelby GT350R Mustang and Ford GT.
Benefits of the wheels include low mass and high stiffness.
They are now making the wheels available to aftermarket customers at what is said to be a price reduction of approximately 25 percent.
The starting MSRP for a set of four Carbon Revolution CR-9 wheels (five-bolt fitment) is $11,850. That, according to the company, is a cost reduction of approximately $4,000.
Brett Gass, executive director of Carbon Revolution, explained, “The new pricing is the direct result of manufacturing optimization made possible by the rapid growth of the business driven by OEM supply.” He added, “Efficiencies in scale thanks to higher manufacturing volumes, as well as new automation in our purpose-built Australian factory is allowing us to pass these benefits on to aftermarket customers.”
Maybe ~$3,000 per wheel is still a bit on the steep side.
But a one-piece carbon fiber wheel is still something that’s comparatively rare (e.g., the production volume for the Ford GT is said to be 250 per year), so it may be a while before it comes to more mainstream vehicles.
(The starting MSRP for a Ford Fiesta is $13,660, which means that before the $4,000 price reduction, the set of carbon fiber wheels was more costly than that car.)
2017 Ford Fiesta
Sandy Munro and his team of engineers and costing analysts at Munro & Associates were contacted by UBS Research—an arm of the giant banking and investment firm—and asked whether it was possible to do a teardown and cost assessment of the Chevrolet Bolt EV.
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How carbon fiber is utilized is as different as the vehicles on which it is used. From full carbon tubs to partial panels to welded steel tube sandwich structures, the only limitation is imagination.