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Audi bringing fiber-reinforced plastic springs to production models

By: Kerri Jansen

July 1, 2014

Audi AG is introducing suspension springs made of glass fiber-reinforced polymer for an upcoming upper-mid-size model.

The Volkswagen AG subsidiary is collaborating with an undisclosed Italian supplier on the part, which will be in production before the end of the year, according to a company news release.

The light green spring is about 40 percent lighter than the steel alternative — 3.5 pounds compared to 6 pounds for the steel version, the company says. That adds up to a savings of about 9.7 pounds for four springs.

“The GFRP springs save weight at a crucial location in the chassis system. We are therefore making driving more precise and enhancing vibrational comfort,” said Ulrich Hackenberg, a member of Audi AG’s Board of Management for Technical Development, in a statement.

The spring is made by wrapping glass fibers in alternating angles around a core of twisted fibers impregnated with epoxy resin. The completed fiber strand is thicker than the wire of a steel spring and the spring has a slightly larger diameter overall.  The automaker says it does not corrode and is impervious to chemicals.

The move to a plastic coil spring comes as multiple suppliers have been investing in technology to begin offering them. German supplier ZF Friedrichshafen AG, for instance, has also developed suspension systems using glass fiber and carbon fiber-reinforced plastics.