The ability to mass-produce a composite chassis on the cheap has long been something of an automotive industry Holy Grail. The material's light weight, superior strength and rigidity, imperviousness to rust, and 'moldability' have the potential to revolutionize the industry... but such dreams have been kept in check by a single major obstacle: cost.
The prohibitive expense of carbon fiber and its painstaking production process has conspired to limit the role of composite chassis to race cars and ultra-pricy supercars like Porsche's Carrera GT. But now, Italy's ATR Group is hoping to change all of that. The firm, having already gained respect (and business) for its work with Porsche, Ferrari and Bugatti, is setting its sights on a lower-priced carbon-fiber composite spaceframe for use in GT-class automobiles. Positioning its flexible technology as an alternative to aluminum chassis construction, ATR believes it can manufacture twenty one-piece tubs per day at a cost that would put it in the realm of many GT offerings.
But don't expect to rush out in few years and find a carbon chassis underneath your next Mustang. By 'GT', ATR is targeting whips that orbit the Maserati's Spyder's pricepoint.
(Click on the jump for in-depth technical treatise and photos of ATR's efforts!)
[Source: Composites Technology]