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Carbo Tech Secures Largest Ever Order for Carbon Monocoque Production

  • Monday, 11th April 2011
  • Reading time: about 5 minutes

Carbo Tech has received what they say is the world’s largest order for series-production carbon monocoques, to be introduced on a range of high-performance sports cars from McLaren Automotive.

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, and they say that this makes it the world’s largest carbon fibre order for series-production cars.

The first series of Carbo Tech CRP 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. Carbon fibre 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.

Series production and lower costs

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 technology with patents.

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.

Approx 100 additional jobs

For this major order, Carbo Tech needs to employ approximately 100 additional people. “The major order won by Carbo Tech against strong international competitors is a sign of real quality for the excellent work of the company. Furthermore, it is an important signal to the labour market in financially difficult times: Carbo Tech is doing both it sustainably ensures jobs and creates new jobs”, says governor Gabriele Burgstaller. “Producing vehicles in light-weight construction will become ever more important in the future. The Austrian Federal Province of Salzburg thus sends out a strong signal of a healthy economy and that it is a good place for producing high-quality products especially in this innovative high-tech sector. Carbo Tech’s story of success has a new and very important chapter to ad with this major order by McLaren.“, Ms Burgstaller points out.

“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. One of Salzburg’s strengths is its innovative companies. From small and medium-sized enterprises to market leaders with intensive research activities – concerning innovation, companies and enterprises in Salzburg have become a driving force which increasingly invest in research and technology although or perhaps precisely because of the difficult times we all have to face.”

Largest order in the history of the company

“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.”

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