Lighter Materials in Its Vehicles
When people think of BMW, they usually picture the sleek Z1 or perhaps a high-performance M car. But the German automaker offers much more than that when it comes to the vehicles on its showroom floor. In fact, it is the largest production vehicle manufacturer that uses carbon fiber in a mass-produced model. Its use of the material has made it one of the most fuel efficient cars on the market today. But what is the body of a BMW really made of?
As part of its ongoing efforts to improve vehicle efficiency, BMW is utilizing lighter materials and combining them in unique ways. A recent example is the new 5 Series, which uses aluminum in its doors and hood for a weight reduction of about 9 pounds. BMW also reduced its unsprung weight by incorporating an aluminum trunk lid, which helps to make the car more agile.
To further reduce the overall vehicle weight, BMW is using an innovative combination of materials in the iX electric vehicle. Its interior frame and pillar components are constructed of a Buy BMW full carbon fiber body kits polymer known as the Life Module, which is placed on top of an aluminum “Drive Module” containing the powertrain and chassis technology. According to the company, the mix of materials saves 137 lbs, while maintaining a low center of gravity and front-to-back axle load balance for optimal handling.
BMW Uses Lighter Materials in Its Vehicles
BMW is able to offer such an advanced carbon-fiber body for the iX because of its own in-house production of raw material. The company produces the raw material in Moses Lake, Washington, and then sends it to its innovation and production plants in Landshut and Leipzig for processing into CFRP composite parts.
Unlike conventional steel parts, CFRP components are not assembled through bolting or riveting, but rather by bonding. The process requires the placement of each component at a precisely defined gap within the body to ensure that the bonds are as strong as possible. The result is a structure that is lighter, quieter and more rigid than its metallic counterparts.
The BMW i3 is another example of a production car that relies heavily on carbon fiber. The passenger cell of the i3 is an all-CFRP monocoque, called the Life Module, that is bonded to an aluminium drive unit and battery, resulting in a light, stiff, safe structure with excellent crash performance. The i3’s use of CFRP has helped it achieve an extremely competitive fuel economy rating and has been recognized as an environmental leader.
BMW, being a premium automotive manufacturer, is likely to use a combination of these carbon fiber types based on the specific needs of each component within a vehicle. For example, in critical structural components where stiffness and strength are paramount, high modulus or ultra-high modulus carbon fiber may be preferred. In less critical or weight-sensitive areas, standard modulus carbon fiber may be a more economical choice.
Delving deeper into the specifics of BMW’s use of carbon fiber, it’s essential to understand the manufacturing processes involved and how they contribute to the overall performance and characteristics of their vehicles.