MAI Carbon Cluster Management GmbH, a research group backed by automotive companies – among others – said it’s moving closer and closer to the moment when affordable large-scale manufacturing of cars made with carbon fiber would become a reality.
According to Klaus Drechsler, the man directing the 80 million-euro ($102 million) project and the materials-development group, says MAI’s efforts focus on dropping the carbon-fiber production expenses by as much as 90%. The research is funded by Germany’s federal government, businesses and research institutions – and the list of 70 companies and other entities also includes BMW and Audi, the biggest premium car manufacturers.
“We’ve certainly reached a halfway point on our cost-cutting target for suitable carbon-fiber parts,” Drechsler, who’s also a professor at the Technical University of Munich, said in an interview. “We’ll see a lot more carbon-fiber use in the next generation of cars. The key is to really drive automation” in production, Drechsler added. “There are different scenarios about how carmakers can use carbon fiber — extensively like BMW, with a carbon-fiber chassis, or with smaller components.”
Augsburg, Germany-based MAI has funds secured through at least 2017 and among the backers we could mention planemaker Airbus Group NV, iemens AG and SGL Carbon SE – the joint-venture that makes the carbon fiber for BMW’s i3 and i8 models.