McLaren MP4-12C – Click above for high-res image gallery
We've brought you stories before about the commitments by BMW and Mercedes to utilize carbon fiber as much as possible in future vehicles. We've also provided a study by Toyota which concludes that carbon fiber may not be as green as we think. Into the debate steps McLaren Automotive with its claimed, largest-ever carbon monocoque order for a series-production vehicle in automotive history. The $184 million (U.S.) order has been placed through Carbo Tech and the material will be utilized on the McLaren MP4-12C supercar.
McLaren realizes the benefit of utilizing this advanced material, and the company issued a statement that said:
The MP4-12C's carbon monocoque weighs a mere 176 pounds, which is absolutely amazing. While we understand McLaren's drive to reduce weight, we would've never imagined that a supercar producer would discuss reducing CO2 emissions as a driving factor behind some of its decisions, at least not until recently. Follow the jump for more info from Carbo Tech.Carbon monocoques are particularly light and thus reduce the CO2 emissions of the vehicles while at the same time offering improved strength, structural rigidity and engineering predictability, resulting in better driving dynamics.
Carbo Tech secures largest ever order for Carbon Monocoque
Carbo Tech has received the world's largest order for series-production carbon monocoques to be introduced on a range of high-performance sports cars from McLaren Automotive from 2011. The order, which amounts to 150 million Euros, will result in investment in a new production facility at the company's Salzburg site. Up to 100 new jobs will be generated in construction of the new facility, and in manufacturing the carbon fibre-based monocoque.
Carbo Tech will manufacture the McLaren-designed carbon chassis (the MonoCell) for series-production models of a new generation of McLaren Automotive road cars over the next eight years, making this the world's largest carbon fibre order for series-production cars, and a natural step for McLaren Automotive, the world's most successful motor racing company who introduced carbon 'tubs' into motorsport and road cars.
The first series of Carbo Tech CRP (= carbon-fibre-reinforced) components will form the chassis of the McLaren MP4-12C, the first of McLaren Automotive's new generation of high-performance sports cars. The 12C, and all future McLaren sports cars, will be of lightweight monocoque design. "Our clear advantage over the competition was our ability to produce large carbon fibre components in series for McLaren's cars to McLaren's design. Our skill at industrialising what has traditionally been a very labour-intensive process was decisive," said Karl Wagner, CEO and CTO of Carbo Tech. "Working with McLaren Automotive in taking this fundamental engineering step in carbon fibre engineering and production will, we believe, enable carbon technology to establish itself ever more in motor vehicle production. Carbon has now achieved the breakthrough into industrial production."
Monocoques are one-piece passenger cells for cars made from carbon fibre. They are particularly light and thus reduce the CO2 emissions of the vehicles while at the same time offering improved strength, structural rigidity and engineering predictability, resulting in better driving dynamics.
Series production and lower costs convinced McLaren
During the development programme for the 12C, McLaren had been searching worldwide for a suitable supplier. The unit cost alongside the series production capability was also key to Carbo Tech's successful integration with McLaren Automotive. "We have now developed an in-house technology that allows us to offer our monocoques at far more economical cost," explains Dr. Ernst Wustinger, CFO Carbo Tech AG. "McLaren's design and innovative foresight, along with our expertise and ability to rapidly develop these unique monocoques resulted in production costs for monocoques that are significantly reduced in cost over similar structures previously manufactured." Carbo Tech has also protected its special technology with patents.
Carbon-based sports cars based on chassis weighing less than 80 kilograms
"The goal for our sports cars is to offer the lightest weight, with the most engaging performance, and a great driving experience from both a driving dynamics and comfort perspective. The carbon monocoque - a traditional concept for McLaren - is the perfect solution. This particular development and partnership with Carbo Tech presents a unique and innovative development in this technology. Carbo Tech has proven to be the ideal partner in the process that, I believe, will revolutionise the use of carbon chassis in road cars," said Antony Sheriff, McLaren Automotive Managing Director.
The carbon monocoque in the 12C weighs less than 80 kilograms and satisfies all crash test requirements for series-production vehicles necessary for street homologation. McLaren Automotive plans to build a range of high-performance sports cars that will compete with the world's best sports car brands. All models will feature the carbon MonoCell as the structural heart.
New production facility at the Salzburg site
In order to manage this ground-breaking order, Carbo Tech has built a new production facility at its Salzburg site. Up to 4,000 monocoques per year will be manufactured in the new 3,500 m2 production hall over the next eight years. Much of the new facility (2,500 m²) will be used for production; the rest is planned for engineering and logistics.
Some 100 additional employees recruited
In the coming years up to 2014, Carbo Tech will take on around 100 new employees to handle the major order. "Particularly at the present time, this major order is an important signal on the labour markets," says Gabi Burgstaller, Governor of Salzburg. "The production of lightweight cars will play an ever more important role in the future. Carbo Tech is thus safeguarding jobs for the longer term."
Order strengthens Salzburg's business location
"With its innovations, particularly in the automotive sector, Salzburg has always been one of the leaders," says Deputy Governor Dr. Wilfried Haslauer. "I am proud that, with Carbo Tech, a Salzburg-based company has created a premiere by producing the world's first genuine series-production monocoque for a sports car. The order is a strong signal from Salzburg's innovation centre and is enormously important for our business location."
"The order has a total volume of 150 million Euros and is thus the largest order in the company's history," says Dr. Ernst Wustinger, CFO Carbo Tech. "In the year of the highest production alone that represents a volume of more than 20 million Euros."