Technicians at Rock West Composites outside of Salt Lake City, Utah, can fashion carbon fiber fabric into just about any shape customers need. The company manufactures everything from tubing for bike frames to solid rod and hybrid plates. Such is the nature of carbon composites. They are so prolific that many of us come into contact with carbon fiber every day without even knowing it. Our cars are a good example.
Car companies have been embracing carbon fiber composites to lower weight without sacrificing strength and safety. Carbon fiber materials are perfect substitutes for metal alloys at a time in automotive history when fuel efficiency and sustainability are top concerns. The composite materials even hold the key to a future of fully-electric cars that many people believe will eventually replace current internal combustion technologies.
So, do you have any experience with carbon fiber materials? Probably, here are 10 carbon fiber parts now showing up in modern cars with more frequency:
Car dashboards are one of the less expensive parts that can be manufactured using carbon fiber materials. More importantly, carbon fiber material can be made to look like other materials, like wood for example, simply by embedding an aesthetic layer during the molding process. Carbon fiber parts do not have to resemble cheap plastic.
2. Gear Shifts
Carbon fiber gear shifts represent another inexpensive way to include carbon fiber parts in modern cars. They are showing up more frequently in sports cars, especially those imported from Europe.
Next to doors, car hoods are the source of a lot of the excess weight on the modern car body. Manufacturers are turning to carbon fiber composites to reduce hood weight. As 100% carbon fiber hoods are prohibitively expensive, carmakers may combine carbon fiber materials with things like fiberglass and aluminum.
Carbon fiber doors are also rather expensive to produce. However, the amount of weight that can be saved makes the expense worth it for high-end cars. Combining carbon fiber doors and hoods creates a significant weight savings that is noticeably visible in terms of fuel mileage.
Carbon fiber wheels are catching on among car enthusiasts willing to pay for style. They are upwards of 50% lighter than stock wheels, but they also rather expensive.
6. Foot Pedals
Carbon fiber is a good material for foot pedals given the abuse these small parts take over the life of a vehicle. They are fairly inexpensive as well.
7. Cold Air Intakes
If you are willing to spend, a carbon fiber cold air intake system can both dress up your engine bay and add significantly to your horsepower and torque. This is a common upgrade for BMW owners.
8. Front Grills
The front grill is another part that takes a lot of abuse over time. Manufacturers are looking at carbon fiber as an alternative to plastic or aluminum.
9. Spoilers and Wings
Both these parts have been lumped together due to their cosmetic nature. Quite a few sports car owners are turning to carbon fiber spoilers and wings to dress up their rides.
10. Valve Covers
Lastly, replacing aluminum valve covers with carbon fiber reduces weight and dresses up the engine. In case you’re worried, carbon fiber stands up extremely well to heat.
Carbon fiber composites are becoming more prolific in the manufacturing of all sorts of products. Whether you know it or not, you probably come in contact with them every day. From car interiors to household products, carbon fiber is the all-purpose material of both the present and the future.