"Audi RS 5 Coupe" (source: Audi)
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The CFRP-based roof of the vehicle (source: Audi)
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Mitsubishi Chemical Corp announced Aug 23, 2017, that its carbon fiber composite material has been employed for the roof of "Audi RS 5 Coupe."

The Audi RS 5 Coupe is a premium sports coupe that Audi AG released in June 2017. Compared with aluminum, the composite material reduced the weight of the part by about 40%, lowering the vehicle's center of gravity and enhancing driving performance. Also, due to the carbon fiber-based outer material, the design of the vehicle was improved.

Wethje Carbon Composites GmbH, which is Mitsubishi Chemical's local group company and a manufacturer of automotive CFRP (carbon fiber reinforced plastic) parts, forms the roof by using CFRP and PCM (prepreg compression molding) method, which is a volume production technology using Mitsubishi Chemical's own high-cycle press forming, and delivers it to Audi.

The PCM method enabled to mass-produce the auto part with a cycle time of about five minutes by press-forming accumulated prepreg (sheet-like carbon fiber intermediate base material impregnated with resin) with a pressing machine.

The surface of the formed part has a high smoothness, enabling to apply class-A coating to the outer surface. This time, Mitsubishi Chemical made further improvements to the manufacturing method and enabled to form a roof whose outer surface is made of carbon fibers, which requires a very high product quality.

In European auto markets such as the German market, there is an increasing interest in the weight reduction of auto bodies because of the strengthened regulations on fuel efficiencies and CO2 emissions. And the full-scale employment of CFRP, which realizes both a high strength and a light weight, is accelerating.

According to its "Aptsis 20" mid-term management plan, the Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings group has a goal of achieving sales of ¥100 billion (approx US$915 million) in its carbon fiber/composite material business in 2020. And it plans to actively expand its business in the industrial field such as automotive applications.

Original Japanese article