- Carbon fiber is going mainstream, as automakers increase usage of the super strong and lightweight material.
- The 2015 Corvette Z06 is just one of the many vehicles wearing carbon fiber at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show.
- New models and concepts from manufacturers including BMW, Chevrolet, Infiniti, Kia, Lexus and Toyota sport carbon-fiber body panels, trim and interiors.
DETROIT — Among the trends in evidence at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show is an abundance of carbon fiber.
Carbon fiber is a super strong and lightweight material that is considered to be a vital part of automakers' efforts to improve performance and fuel economy. Cost has been the main hurdle to widespread use of carbon fiber in cars and trucks. But it's clear that automakers have carbon fiber at the top of their wish lists, especially with the proliferation of the material on display here.
The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette weighs about 100 pounds less than previous models, thanks in part to a carbon-fiber hood and roof panels. And the newly introduced 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 takes weight savings even further, with its optional Carbon Fiber Aero package that includes a front splitter, rocker panels and rear spoiler made of the space-age material.
The 2015 BMW M3 performance sedan and M4 performance coupe achieve a weight savings of 176 pounds compared to prior models, thanks to a carbon-fiber roof and other lightweight materials used throughout the vehicles. And BMW's 2014 i3 all-electric hatchback and 2014 i8 plug-in hybrid sport coupe both feature bodies made largely of carbon fiber, whose light weight contributes to extending the range of these vehicles.
The i3 goes on sale in April, while the i8 is expected to arrive later in the summer.
The 2015 Lexus RC F performance coupe, coming to dealers next fall, was unveiled at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show. In addition to aggressive styling and a standard 460-horsepower V8 engine, the RC F can be equipped with an optional carbon-fiber package, which includes a roof panel and active rear spoiler that provides additional downforce above 50 mph.
Several concept cars at the Detroit auto show also sported the carbon-fiber treatment. Kia showed off its GT4 Stinger sports car concept, equipped with carbon-fiber wheel rims and body trim. Toyota displayed its wild FT-1 concept sports car, highlighted with carbon-fiber air intakes and other components. And the Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge Concept features carbon-fiber side skirts, mirrors, front splitter, rear diffuser and interior trim.
Edmunds says: Car shoppers should expect to see lower-cost carbon-fiber touches on vehicles from performance and luxury automakers increase in the near future.