Contact person

  • Doris Karl

    Marketing, Communication

    Carbon Composites e.V. (CCeV)

    Doris Karl

    Am Technologiezentrum 5
    86159 Augsburg

    Tel.: +49 821 – 2684 1104
    Mobil: +49 151 – 27596905
    Fax: +49 821 – 2684 1108

Composites in Transportation

Composite materials were first used to manufacture cars back in 1958, the initial reason being the lack of available materials at the time. In former East Germany, sheet steel was on the embargo list and Russian body sheet proved to be unsuitable for production purposes, which is why the Trabant that went into series in 1958 had an outer shell made of composite material - a cotton-reinforced phenolic resin. When the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) race championship started at the beginning of the 1990s, there was a need for car bodies that were extremely strong with a small mass and low tool investment costs. Consequently, composite materials were used, although at the time they were primarily considered a manufacturing technology from the aerospace and extreme sport sectors.

Sports cars as pioneers

The first automobile with a monocoque, a unibody construction made of fibre-reinforced plastic, was the 1956 Berkeley Sports B60. This construction type first became really well-known with the 1957 Lotus Elite which comprised parts made of fibre glass. The fibre-reinforced monocoque era in the Formula 1 began around 1980 and led to a drastic reduction in accidents in this highest of car racing circles. The first monocoque made of carbon fibre composites was the 1981 McLaren MP4-1. At the turn of the century, exclusive and high-image small series vehicles were manufactured with fibre-reinforced plastic monocoques. For instance, the Audi Sport Quattro went into series in 1983 with an outer car body made of aramid and fibre-reinforced composites. The American version of the Audi 90 had a cardan shaft completely made of fibre-reinforced plastic as of 1989. In 2013 BMW started using fibre-reinforced composites in large-scale series in the life-module of the BMW i3. The use of composite materials is also growing in the motorcycle manufacturing sector, e.g. in the new HOREX VR6 Classic or the new HOREX VR6 Café Roadster.