1996-02-01

Making the PNGV Super Car a Reality with Carbon Fiber: Pragmatic Goal or Pipe Dream? 960243

The Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV), a collaborative government-industry R&D program, has laid out and initiated a plan for a “Supercar” with the following specifications: a fuel economy of 80 miles per gallon (2.9 liters/100 km), size comparable to a midsize, four door sedan, equivalent function in other performance areas, and cost commensurate with that of today's automobile.
Together, the performance and cost goals are formidable to say the least. The PNGV projects that a 50% mass savings in the “body-in-white” (BIW) is a necessary contribution to meet the 80 mpg goal. The two most likely materials systems to meet the mass reduction goal are aluminum and carbon fiber reinforced polymer composites, neither of which are inexpensive relative to today's steel unibody.
This paper examines the fabrication and assembly cost of a mid-size, four door sedan manufactured from one of three materials systems: a stamped steel unibody; an extruded, cast, and stamped aluminum spaceframe; and a molded carbon fiber reinforced polymer composite monocoque. The composite monocoque is examined in detail to understand the impact on cost of current and projected carbon fiber content, price and process cycle time.

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