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How cheap carbon fiber will help solve electric car range problems

The costs associated with carbon fiber production are set to fall rapidly and could see it become a mainstream alternative to aluminum and steel in the near future, according to an industry executive.

The knock-effects for the embryonic electric car industry are promising. Currently only high-end supercars and specialist vehicles such as the electric BMW i3 and i8 use carbon fiber extensively – so prohibitive is the cost – but that will change over the next few years.

“Today the average costs of lightweight carbon fiber parts is 100 euros ($140) per kilogram, of which 20 euros is for materials and 80 euros for manufacturing,” Hubert Jaeger, SGL Carbon’s head of technology and innovation, told German technology newspaper VDI-Nachrichten.

Those costs could fall by more than 70 percent, Jaeger says, meaning that a kilogram of carbon fiber would cost 30 euros or less, which is not much more than the lightest mainstream metal used in the automotive industry.
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