Once a fixture of only the most expensive Formula 1 race cars, carbon fiber monocoques have now filtered down into the slightly more accesible world of supercars, and McLaren is leading the charge, after announcing plans to build two more carbon-monocoque supercars after the MP4-12C.
McLaren will be partnering with Carbo Tech, whose factory in Salzburg, Austria can supply up to 4,000 of the light weight structures per year. Carbon Fiber has the potential to be a wonder-material for the auto industry, due to its strength, malleability and light weight (which can in turn increase performance and reduce weight). However the material has traditionally been extremely expensive, and only within the realm of exclusive racing teams.
Toyota and BMW are currently investing heavily in new production facilities and development techniques relating to carbon fiber, in preparation for future products like the Lexus LFA and BMW’s Megacity urban car. The increased investment and upcoming mass production of vehicles with carbon fiber content should help amortize the costs and enable car makers to use carbon fiber on their entire range of products, allowing the benefits to be passed on to the rest of the vehicle range.
At McLaren’s price range, the cost prohibitive qualities of carbon fiber are much less of an issue, and the sports car firm claims that 1,600 orders have been placed for the MP4-12C already, a significant amount for such a niche, low volume sports car.
[Source: Inside Line]