Israeli Firm Eyes High-Volume Carbon Fiber Body Applications
Advances could make the lightweight material a cost-effective way to boost EV driving ranges
Plasan, which has long supplied carbon fiber body panels for race cars and low-volume performance models—including the Corvette and Viper—aims to launch high-volume applications on mainstream models in coming years, thanks to improved material designs and new production processes.
The Israel-based company, which is best known for supplying armored vehicle platforms for military applications, claims its carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) body structure can provide a 45% weight savings over steel bodies and is 20% lighter than aluminum alternatives.
The company says it is in talks with several carmakers and racing teams about potential applications.
“We’re hopeful that in two to three years, there will be components built using our technology, with a full body following some years later,” chief designer Nir Kahn tells Autocar.
Plasan’s system uses pull-extrusion carbon fiber beams with carbon fiber filaments distributed along the entire length of the walls.
The individual beams are bonded to composite body panels to form semi-structured sides. The parts are joined by two-piece pressed aluminum nodes, which is said to speed the assembly process.
In addition to lightweighting benefits, Plasan describes the design as being extremely strong and rigid.
The CFRP body panels can be built with existing production equipment and the same basic process used for steel unibody platforms, and at rates the supplier says will make the material viable at annual production volumes of more than 100,000 units.
In particular, the company is targeting next-generation electric vehicles. Although still pricey, Plasan says the material could be a cost-effective way to extend driving ranges through lightweighting. The supplier deems lightweighting cost tradeoffs to be “justifiable” at a premium of $10/kg.
Plasan launched its North American operations in Michigan in 2006. Japanese materials giant Toray Industries acquired a 20% stake in the business in 2013.
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