Tokyo — Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. has long reserved costly carbon-fiber-reinforced 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.
By adopting compression resin transfer molding, Nissan speeds the process by allowing resin to flow into the woven carbon fiber more quickly and thoroughly permeate the material when it is being pressed between two dies in the mold.
The process slashes the time and cost needed to make parts out of carbon fiber, the Tokyo-based automaker says. 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 fiber 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-fiber-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."