SPE ACCE will feature keynote on McLaren supercar carbon fiber monocell

McLaren Automotive will be the luncheon keynote at the SPE Automotive Composites Conference and Exhibition Sept. 15; The company will discuss the carbon fiber monocell designed for the McLaren MPV-12C supercar.

Claudio Santoni, function group manager, Body Structures & Body Systems, at McLaren Automotive Ltd. (Woking, Surrey, U.K.), will give a luncheon keynote entitled, “The McLaren MP4-12C Carbon Fibre ‘MonoCell,’” Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 15, 2010, at the tenth-annual SPE Automotive Composites Conference and Exhibition (ACCE) in Troy, Mich., USA.

McLaren — renowned for its motor racing successes in Formula 1, IndyCar, Can-Am, and Le Mans — is gearing up for the 2011 launch of its new street-legal, two-passenger, mid-engine MP4-12C supercar. A unique feature of this aluminum- and composites-intensive vehicle — and the subject of the SPE ACCE keynote — is its single-piece, 176-lb/80-kg carbon fiber-reinforced-plastic (CFRP) moncoque/safety cell, which the company calls a “MonoCell.”

The automaker claims this is the first time a carbon-composite chassis has been offered on a performance vehicle in the target price range of £125,000 to £175,000, and that the vehicle will set new standards for fuel economy and CO2 emissions thanks to Formula 1 (F1) technology and processes.

The MonoCell not only holds and protects passengers, but also responds to loads from front and rear aluminum subassemblies, which, in turn, act as crash structures that can be unbolted and replaced in the event of collision damage. The MonoCell itself is bolted to the windshield surround, which is comprised of a cast-aluminum base and a stamped-aluminum windshield frame, plus 40-mm boron-steel tubes that provide front roll bar functionality. The front fenders, hood, and roof, plus the rear roll bar, which are not subject to as severe loading as the front roll bars, are aluminum. The rest of the vehicle’s lightweight, aerodynamically efficient, highly complex exterior body panels are sheet-molding compound (SMC) composite. 

For more information about the SPE ACCE, visit the Automotive Division’s website at www.speautomotive.com/comp.htm, or the Composites’ Division website at www.compositeshelp.com, or contact the group at +1 248-244-8993.

Look for a story on the McLaren monocell in the September 2010 issue of High-Performance Composites magazine.