Maximizing green factor, efficiency and power with CFRP

Maximizing green factor, efficiency and power with CFRP

Am curious how and what Elon and Tesla have planned for increasing efficiency of the S. BMW i3, albeit ugly and not a good comp to the S, will be using Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic ("CFRP") made in its green production facility in Moses Lake, Washington. BMW indicated its ideal was to reduce weight to the entire car so that all stress and resources required for the vehicle from suspension, tires and batteries be relieved or improved. If battery life and efficiency is such a big deal to Tesla, why not immediately move into lighter weight body panels that are equally if not stronger, green, and produced at a site like BMW's that relies on cheap power and thus can still be profitable?

I am looking to order an S in the immediate future for its class, styling, technology and green factor. I wish that it could come with max efficiency and green production as well. Certainly if they moved to CFRP body paneling instead of just aesthetic carbon fiber interior trim, I would trade in my old S for the new! Heck the 60 batter would be able to go the 265mile range the 85 has. Forget about new battery technology! Go to Moses Lake or wherever and join BMW's CFRP project!

ian | August 14, 2013

The S is made mostly from aluminum (with a few strategically placed boron steel beams for safety) to reduce weight. It's also got the most aerodynamic body of any production car on the road today.

With how well it's performed in the NHTSA crash tests it seems like they've done it "right".

Let's see how well that BMW does in the crash tests before we go touting it as "better".


lacarguy | August 14, 2013

I was actually talking about using the CBRP technology as a way to enhance Tesla's already excellent car. Certainly light weight strong material (lighter than the steel enforced aluminum) can only help and not hurt the car.

What you've said regarding the BMW tests is irrelevant. We should be thinking about how well the Tesla could do with CBRP instead of aluminum, and whether the benefits from using CFRP diffuses the safety that the current Tesla offers.

frmercado | August 14, 2013

I agree that using CBRP would be great for any EV, including the Model S. While aluminum is still a light material CBRP is 30% lighter and has better rigidity.

The only caveat that I see in your plan is that BMW spent years taking this technology to where it is now. Mass producing a car with such a high amount of carbon fiber while doing it in a sustainable fashion is no small feat. You don't just build a couple of plants near a damn and bunch wind mills (the Gorge in Oregon comes to mind)and start churning out automotive grade carbon fiber in massive quantities.

I don't think BMW would be willing to share this technology so easily. It would be like asking Tesla to give up their secrets on how they come up with such an efficient drive train including batteries, control systems softwaare and such a small and powerful electric motor.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure Tesla has more than enough brain power to come up with their own CBRP frame, cell, or even entire car, but it would take a huge amount of investment in R&D, plus actually setting up the whole production chain. Maybe for their more affordable 3rd gen car...

Timo | August 14, 2013

There is also a small matter of cost. BMW probably produces those cars in loss just to make some greenwashing of the company.

Brian H | August 15, 2013

"plants near a damn"
What does a damn dam have to do with carbon fiber?

Vawlkus | August 15, 2013

Besides, Tesla ready tried CF with the Roadster. After that, they cut CF back to interior trim in the S.

Brian H | August 15, 2013

As far as "strength" goes, there's certain advantage to having a shell that bends and crumples, rather than shattering into ultra-sharp shards.

frmercado | August 15, 2013

As soon as I posted and saw that extra n on dam I knew I was going to get in trouble with the spelling police... :P

Anyways the reason why I mentioned the dam is because lacarguy mentioned the green factor of BMW having "built its green production facility in Moses Lake, Washington". The reason why this carbon fiber plant is "green" is because it draws all of its power from a dam at that location, therefore getting 100% of its energy from renewable resources, in this case a dam. The Germany plant that does the last stage of the production runs mostly on wind.

CBRP is a carbon fiber reinforced PLASTIC and is different from other more commonly used carbon fiber based composite materials such as carbon fiber honeycomb and epoxy. Unlike the carbon fiber epoxy it doesn't shatter into ultra-sharp shards. It will bend and crumple like aluminum while absorbing more energy because of the material’s strength and rigidity.

olanmills | August 15, 2013

There are practical considerations. Aside from the costs, repairing CF should your car be damaged would be different than aluminum.

Brian H | August 15, 2013

TM could swap batteries for CBRP, maybe?

ian | August 15, 2013

@frmercado and Brian H - CFRP. It stands for Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic. ;-)

Vawlkus | August 16, 2013

Besides, too much oil in plastics :P

ian | August 18, 2013

Better use of oil than burning it!