A major car manufacturer approached us to see if we could help them to develop a prototype carbon fibre composite chassis for a hybrid powered concept car.
This had to be developed in a relatively short time frame and the requirement was for a lightweight chassis that would provide high reserves of strength and stiffness. Additionally as this was to be a 'one off' chassis, investment in moulds and tooling was to be kept to a minimum
Further another major requirement for the layout of the chassis - for this small two door city car was systems packaging and ensuring adequate space was available for this as well as adequate space for occupants
Traditionally a steel tube structure would of been the obvious choice, however an important aspect of this project was to establish if it would be possible to design and develop a composite chassis for a low volume vehicle at a commercially acceptable cost.
Although a composite solution would increase the cost of the vehicles chassis, compared with a pressed steel one, this would require a substantial investment in tooling which would have to be amortized over the life of the car. Our design solution simplified the structure of the chassis and makes use of carbon fibre skinned honeycomb panels.
In a production environment the individual flat panels which make up the chassis would be cut out with a CNC water jet cutter and the final assembly of the chassis would take place in a custom designed bonding jig.
This solution provides for a structurally sophisticated chassis which does not require the technical expertise of shop floor personnel, necessary with a hand laid composite chassis and it is technically feasible for us to provide the Client with a semi-automated manufacturing process.