Toray Reveals EV Concept Car With Carbon Fiber Body
Toray has spent 300 million yen to develop a prototype electric vehicle that uses a carbon fiber body. This car was exhibited at the Toray Advanced Materials Show 2011. By using lots of light, strong carbon fiber, Toray has achieved a lightweight vehicle that's energy-efficient and ensures safety in a crash.
"Our main aim in making this concept car was to demonstrate how our materials, especially those containing carbon fiber, can be used in an actual car to achieve light weight and safety."
This concept EV is an open car for two people, with a top speed of 147 km/h, and a range of 185 km on a single charge. It was designed by Gordon Murray Design, a vehicle design firm involved in Formula 1.
"A two-seater open EV is difficult to compare with other vehicles. But compared with, say, a four-seater production car, using carbon fiber can reduce the weight by about one-third. Actually, this car weighs 846 kg. The lithium ion battery accounts for 220 kg, so the body weighs a little over 600 kg."
As well as being light and strong, carbon fiber absorbs energy well. Toray has utilized this to ensure safety in a crash, by creating a crumple zone and a safety cell, which protects the passengers.
"The crumple zone absorbs energy by being crushed if the car hits something. As well as doing simulations, we've actually verified this by doing crash tests. The passenger safety cell has a monocoque structure, and this is designed to protect the passengers by not breaking, even in a crash."
Carbon fiber is expensive compared with steel, so cost is an issue with mass production. But because carbon fiber can be molded in one piece, the number of components can be reduced, which makes production more efficient. Toray aims to supply this car to the automotive industry on a full-scale basis from 2015 onward.
"This is entirely a concept from Toray as a materials manufacturer. From now on, we'd like to develop it into an actual car, together with actual automakers."