Future Fibres are targeting the automotive sector following combined expertise with Persico in advanced composite fibres and precision tooling to produce prototypes of the carbon composite tub for a new racing roadster, codenamed RP-one.
According to Future Fibres, this road-legal British sports car from RPx Automotive, which will go into production in December 2013, is part of a new generation of performance vehicles based on light weight rather than engine power. The RP-one has been designed to accentuate the versatility of Future Fibres and its continued success in extending beyond high-end rigging and spars into other major non-marine markets.
Future Fibres says its carbon fibre composite technologies are used to create the custom-designed, exposed tub of the RP-one, which not only provides class-leading vehicle stiffness but also is a key styling feature. Thanks to its strength-to-weight ratio, the carbon fibre composite used in the tub weighs only 35kg and makes a major contribution to the light weight of the RP-one – a mere 480kg. The complete tub structure, which integrates the dashboard and tub cards, weighs less than 55kg. Future Fibres says the lighter weight and rigidity of automotive structures made from this advanced material mean high performance can co-exist with environmental goals.
According to Peter Kent, Managing Director for RPx Automotive, “The advantages of carbon fibre technologies are well known in aviation, Formula One racing and yachting. Now, together with Future Fibres and Persico, we are bringing the performance and environmental benefits of carbon fibre composite to our RP-one roadster. Our goal is to redefine the modern high-performance sports car by integrating next-generation racing technologies within road-legal car. As we move into production, we continue to rely on Future Fibres and Persico for their expertise and capabilities spanning design through tooling, prototyping and manufacturing.”
The upcoming debut of the RP-one is the culmination of five years’ work focused on advanced materials, weight reduction and driving dynamics. It explains that, because of its exceptionally light weight and aerodynamic styling, the RP-one does not require a heavy-duty powertrain for top performance. Supercar (0 to 100kph [60mph]) acceleration can be achieved with smaller, more-economical and more-sustainable engines. In fact, the lightweight platform of the RP-one will also serve as a foundation for alternative powertrains such as electric motors.
Torbjörn Linderson, Future Fibres Product Manager, said, “Our work with Persico on the upcoming RP-one racing car demonstrates the advantages of integrating mould making with composites manufacturing capacity. Our combined experience in the marine composites area allowed us to develop a cost-efficient production process for a low-volume, high-precision automotive part. We continue to identify major new applications for our lightweight fibre technologies, particularly in view of the demand for sustainable solutions.”
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