Continuing its dedication to using carbon fiber in production vehicles, BMW AG this week unveiled its 2016 7 Series sedan with a passenger cell making significant use of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic.
BMW has embraced the use of CF for the passenger cell of its electric i models, and developing parts that can be made with recycled CF production waste.
For the 7 Series vehicles, CFRP acts as bracing in an all-new, mixed-material passenger cell that also incorporates steel and aluminum. The carbon fiber helps divert impact forces along with the metal, reducing weight while increasing stiffness of the passenger cell, according to a BMW video.
Lightweighting efforts have reduced the weight of the body shell by 88 pounds while the entire car comes in at 190 pounds lighter than the existing 7 series, the company said.
BMW has a joint venture to produce its carbon fiber, including a plant in Moses Lake, Wash.
Beyond carbon fiber, the Munich, Germany-based automaker's redesigned flagship sedan will offer other technological goodies aimed at keeping buyers from defecting to cutting-edge competitors such as the Mercedes-Benz S class and Tesla's Model S.
New 7-series features include the largest head-up display in the industry, a transmission linked to the navigation system that optimizes performance based on the road, a passenger compartment that uses carbon fiber to save weight, fully autonomous parking and the world's first use of gesture-recognition controls in a production car.
The gesture controls allow front-seat passengers to use predetermined hand movements to change the volume or answer or dismiss phone calls. The feature can also be customized for certain commands, such as directing the navigation system to guide the driver home. The feature will be standard on all 7 series models.
Automotive News contributed to this report.