TOKYO — Nissan has long reserved costly carbon-fibre components to such applications as the hood and roof of its low-volume, high-performance GT-R sports car. But thanks to a production breakthrough, Nissan says it will soon deploy the lightweight material in mass-market models.
The new manufacturing process slashes the time and cost needed to make parts out of carbon fibre. Deploying it will help Nissan trim about 176 pounds, on average, from future vehicle weights.
Company executives say Nissan needs to broaden its use of carbon fibre to help it meet increasingly stringent fuel economy rules. Lighter vehicles require less energy to be propelled, and slimming down is an important way to offset the weight of heavy batteries as automakers electrify lineups.
"In the past, we used to apply [carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic] to a limited number of models. But going forward, we would like to apply it to mass production," said Hideyuki Sakamoto, executive vice president for manufacturing and supply chain management. "And now we have visibility to do that."
The advance comes in the molding process of carbon-fibre components, reducing the time needed from the current 10 minutes to about 2 minutes. And the use of better computer simulations halves development time to create part dies, adding to the cost savings and timesavings.