One of the worlds largest producers of carbon fiber is Japanese company Toray. Recently they teamed up with Gordon Murray to build a carbon fiber concept EC car tagged the T-Wave AR-1.
The car will be officially announced tomorrow at the Tokyo International Forum, but we’ve got some preliminary information ahead of time. Based on its profile, it seems that the car is a rebodied Tesla Roadster or Lotus Elise, though what’s inside is absolutely different. You see, the entire point of this concept is to show how much weight can be saved by using carbon fiber composites to replace pre-existing steel pieces. Inside of the T-Wave AR-1 you’ll find not only the exterior body, panels and seats to be made from carbon fiber…but also the frame. All of this replacing brings the weight down to 1,865 pounds. For comparison-sake, the Tesla Roadster, another 2-seat EV, weighs in 44% heavier at 2,690 pounds. That’s significant savings on an already lightweight vehicle. The majority of those savings come from the frame.
Aside from the massive weight-savings in the frame, Toray says that it’s also 10 times stronger and will absorb 2.5 times more energy in a collision. There’s a reason why a concept like this remains a concept, and that’s because of the price. Carbon fiber production is much more expensive, in fact Toray mentions that production costs would multiply 20-fold. The T-Wave AR-1 concept itself costs about $3.88 million.
The idea of course is for more innovation in production processes and technologies to help bring down costs to a more reasonable level so we can see lightweight carbon fiber components being used more frequently in everyday cars rather than just high-end luxury ones. Companies like BMW and Lamborghini are currently investing a ton of resources into making this happen.