By on April 11, 2019

Image: Steph Willems/TTAC

In launching its next-generation Sierra half-ton last summer, GMC focused a lot of its attention on the brand-exclusive MultiPro tailgate, a bit of door-within-door wizardry that makes bed access a breeze. It also provides the necessary hookups for tailgate party tunes.

In short, to butcher a quote from Toronto mayor John Tory, the MultiPro has more positions that Masters and Johnson. But the bed behind the gate was also singled out for some attention. GMC told the public that a carbon fiber bed — CarbonPro, in GMC parlance — would join the 2019 model as a late availability option.

That’s still the plan. With production now two months off, GMC wants to rekindle some of that early interest in its seemingly indestructible bed. (Read More…)

By on April 21, 2018

Image: Magna

By the end of the year, you’ll know whether your next front-drive, non-supercar Ford might contain a carbon fiber cradle for its engine. As promised, supplier Magna has delivered a carbon fiber composite subframe prototype to Dearborn, destined for a rigorous life in a Fusion testbed.

There’ll be calculators working overtime as Ford engineers and bean counters figure out whether the lightweight, parts-saving component has a place in the brand’s stable. (Read More…)

By on March 15, 2018

GMC unveiled the 2019 GMC Sierra amid great pomp and circumstance on March 1st. Much of the buzz surrounding the new truck focused on new features like a multi-function tailgate and comprehensive towing suite. One of the new features, CarbonPro, is the industry’s first carbon fiber pickup box. Duncan Aldred, GMC’s Global Vice President, went as far as saying, “In 116 years of making GMC pickup trucks, our industry-first carbon fiber box is the toughest and most durable pickup box we have ever made.”

While we have little reason to question that statement, it gives the impression that this pickup box is made out of supercars and iPhone cases. In reality, it’s chopped up carbon fiber in a nylon plastic resin. After talking to GMC and the supplier that builds the CarbonPro box, we’ve this product does indeed have some important advancements. At the same time, it is also shares some similarities with the pickup boxes found on the Toyota Tacoma and Honda Ridgeline. (Read More…)

By on December 7, 2017

2018 Chevrolet Silverado Z71

General Motors, the company that ran a campaign criticizing Ford for moving away from steel on its F-Series, is expected to implement carbon fiber in the beds of large pickup trucks within two years. Hopefully, the wait gives consumers time to forget some rather negative ads that bemoaned the use of aluminum for its high repair costs and chance of deformation in an impact.

Carbon fiber is ridiculously strong and should hold up in any side-by-side impact test against aluminum. That is, until you start considering price. Carbon fiber costs substantially more to manufacture, form, and fix than either steel or aluminum. That’s probably why GM plans to limit its usage to only highest trim levels, at least until it can figure out a way to keep production costs down.  (Read More…)

By on August 21, 2017

2018 Porsche 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series Carbon Fiber wheels - Image: PorschePorsche claims to be the first automaker to bring braided carbon-fiber wheels to a production car by offering a quartet of ultra-strong, ultra-light, dark grey rims as an optional upgrade on the 2018 Porsche 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series.

You remember the one. It’s a regular ol’ 911, only turbocharged and upgraded to S trim and then further upgraded with 27 more horsepower for — make sure you’ve swallowed that last bite — $67,000. There will only be 500. The top speed is 205 miles per hour. The total cost is $257,500, or roughly the cost of a regular 911 Turbo S and a Macan GTS. There’s a lot of Golden Yellow Metallic.

And for the price of a 2017 Ford Fiesta, you could upgrade your 2018 Porsche 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series with $14,980 wheels.  (Read More…)

By on March 18, 2017

Ford badge emblem logo

If you’re worried that your corroded subframe will one day eject your car’s engine or suspension components like a spent hull from an Ithaca pump, the future holds promise. (Though you should still get that undercarriage checked out.)

Ford Motor Company, working with mega supplier Magna International, has developed a prototype vehicle subframe made of carbon fiber-reinforced composites. The goal is to one day offer a subframe that’s impervious to rust, while reducing weight and complexity. (Read More…)

By on July 22, 2016

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Sick of trying to motivate your Mazda MX-5 Miata’s prodigious tonnage? Thinking of giving that porker away to a friend? Help is on the way.

The next generation of automotive journalism’s favorite ride will shed weight, thanks to the use of carbon fiber, Autocar reports. That could mean smaller engines for all markets. (Read More…)

By on May 5, 2015

 

The new McLaren 570S

The new McLaren 570S

It sounds funny to say a car that costs almost $185,000 is a move downmarket, but the new McLaren 570S introduced at the recent New York Auto Show, and the detuned 540S version of the same “Sport Series” chassis (~$150K), are exactly that. The first McLarens to cost less than a quarter of a million dollars are aimed squarely at the Porsche 911. Since I’ve always been a best bang for the buck kind of a guy, whether I’m talking cars or stereo equipment, I wondered if McLaren might be interested in using their resources to bring their kind of high performance to an everyman’s sports car. So I asked Wayne Bruce, McLaren’s global director of communications, if there might be a sub-six-figure McLaren some day. (Read More…)

By on March 20, 2015

2015 BMW i3 Range Extender
Some call it a hybrid, some call it an EV. Some have called it a REx, a BEVx, a landmark vehicle in EV production, and others simply call it ugly. One things is for sure however, the 2015 BMW i3 turns more heads in Northern California than a Tesla Model S. Not since I last drove the Jaguar XKR-S have I received as many questions while parked at the gas pump, or visited a gas pump so frequently, but I digress. In a nutshell, the i3 is technically a hybrid or an EV depending on the version you get.

(Read More…)

By on December 3, 2014

2014-bmw-i8-tesla-model-s-promo

Were you hoping BMW and Tesla would join forces for the future of electrification? Not so fast.

(Read More…)

By on October 16, 2014

2014 BMW i8 04

Though carbon fiber is being used more extensively in new vehicles, the high costs associated with building a vehicle out of the material have kept it to the likes of the Lexus LFA and BMW i Series. This could soon change, however.

(Read More…)

By on May 14, 2014

2014 BMW i8 03

On the success of a first-year sell-out of the i8 and high demand for the i3, BMW is making an additional investment into its joint venture with SGL Group, with the intention of introducing carbon fiber into models beyond the i and M collections.

(Read More…)

By on April 21, 2014

BMW-Beijing-Concept

Few companies are as competitive with each other as the German luxury brands. Now that Mercedes-Benz will be making the S600 Maybach edition of their S-Class fullsize sedan, BMW is responding wtih their own flagship, the Vision Future Luxury concept, introduced at the Beijing auto show on Sunday. Since Vision Future Luxury doesn’t quite fit BMW’s alphanumeric nomenclature, when it goes on sale in 2016, it will likely be known as the 9-Series, though some have suggested that it will revive the 8-Series nameplate or even be the basis of the next 7.  The Neuner will be the largest car that BMW offers, with a total length of about 216 inches (5,500 mm), making it about 11 inches longer than even the long wheelbase versions of the 7-Series. Wealthy Chinese prefer to be driven, one reason for the concept’s debut in Beijing. (Read More…)

By on October 24, 2013
volvobatterybodypanels-7-640x353

That CFRP cowl panel is really storing electricity.

BMW is using carbon fiber composite unibodies for the electric i3 and i8 models to reduce their weight, thereby increasing their range. Now, Volvo is using carbon fiber in a novel way for EVs. Using carbon fiber it has developed a composite material that acts as a capacitor, storing electrical energy, so theoretically body panels and structural components could act as battery equivalents. Unlike conventional batteries, which add weight to a vehicle, the carbon fiber capacitive body panels wouldn’t just power the vehicles but also reduce weight.

(Read More…)

By on October 17, 2013

One of our readers, Noble713, commenting on a news items about the BMW i3, asked if TTAC could provide more coverage on BMW’s carbon fiber productions methods. The i3 EV, and upcoming i8, are built upon CFRP structures. Weight is the enemy of electric vehicles. The more weight you can take out of the actual structure of the car, the more battery cells you can carry for more power and better range, hence BMW turning to carbon fiber. It turns out that BMW has released a series of videos (bilingual, wait for the English) on that very topic. Their CFRP production uses materials made by SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers, a joint venture between the BMW and SGL groups and the effort spans the globe. SGL has expertise in carbon fiber and in 2011 BMW took a 15% stake in the company. (Read More…)

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