Sports car makers select carbon fiber suppliers for key parts

Toho's carbon fiber composites have been adopted for the cabin and various components of the Lexus LFA, a new Lexus "F" premium sports car series Toyota Motors unveiled.

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Toyota Motors (Tokyo, Japan) will adopt carbon fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP) components made with fiber from Tokyo-based Toho Tenax for the cabin and various components of the Lexus LFA, a new Lexus F-series premium sports car, which was unveiled last year at the Tokyo Motor Show. A Dec. 4, 2009, announcement from Toho Tenax revealed that the latter had developed the CFRP components in cooperation with Toyota group companies, parts manufacturers and the Teijin Composite Innovation Center (TCIC) in Gotemba, Japan. The new components reportedly represent important steps forward in the use of carbon fiber for core automotive components. Toyota will begin marketing the LFA to the auto-buying public at the end of 2010.

Toho Tenax says 65 percent of the Lexus LFA’s cabin will be made with CFRP, and it will weigh 100 kg/220.5 lb less than a comparable aluminum cabin. CFRP also will be used for the diffuser, the speed-controlled rear wing and interior components.

Meanwhile, in Europe, automaker BMW AG (Munich, Germany) has selected trademarked HexForce NC2 reinforcements from Hexcel (Duxford, Cambridge, U.K.) for the inner structural layer of the carbon-fiber roof of its M-series cars. Hexcel’s patented NC2 technology produces carbon-fiber multiaxial reinforcements that are flat, lightweight and provide more uniform coverage than conventional noncrimp fabrics (NCF), an advantage when producing thin composite structures that require a cosmetically pleasing appearance. The technology employs unidirectional tapes that are joined by a novel stitching process.

Hexcel also supplies BMW with trademarked HexForce PrimeTex 3K spread fabrics for the outer skin of M-series carbon-fiber roof panels.