Audi to introduce fibreglass springs to reduce vehicle weight
The drive towards improving fuel economy is forcing car manufacturers to extreme lengths to bring down the weight of their cars, with carbon fibre, aluminium and fibreglass all being utilised to make it possible to meet strict emissions regulations.
In its search for lighter cars, German luxury car manufacturer Audi has announced it will soon start using GFRP (glass fibre-reinforced polymer) springs in its cars. If everything goes according to plan, this will happen before the end of 2014.
The core of the spring consists of fibreglass strands, injected with epoxy resin and then twisted together. The company then uses a machine to wrap extra strands of fibreglass around this core and finally the unit is cured in an oven.
Do these GFRP springs hold any benefits over steel? Firstly, they do not corrode, even when they are damaged by stone chips; secondly, wheel washing chemicals will not impact them. In regions with salted, snowy roads, there are major potential benefits to be gained by dropping steel for fibreglass.
Another important benefit over conventional steel springs is weight reduction. In a medium-sized vehicle, Audi says every individual spring weighs nearly 6lb, whereas its GFRP counterpart only weighs around 3.5lb. This represents a weight reduction of about 40%. While a total saving of slightly less than 10lb might not seem significant compared to the weight of a car, every ounce saved contributes to a better driving experience, lower fuel consumption and lower emissions.