Cutting weight is one of the issues automakers are constantly dealing with. Lightweight materials like carbon fibre are becoming more mainstream and can be found already on various production cars from the chassis, exterior parts to interior trim.
Audi is taking first steps eliminating steel suspension springs by announcing new lightweight springs of glass fibre-reinforced polymer.
These are not futuristic springs for a concept car, but are destined for market launch in autumn 2014 in an upper mid-size model. Most likely we are talking about a new R8.
Developed together with an Italian supplier, the new springs have a light green look and are thicker than the wire of a steel spring, it also has a slightly larger overall diameter with a lower number of coils.
The new springs are also roughly 40 per cent lighter. Average steel spring for an upper mid-size model weighs nearly 2.7kg, while a GFRP spring with the same properties weighs just approximately 1.6kg.
All four GFRP springs reduce the weight by roughly 4.4kg.
“The GFRP springs save weight at a crucial location in the chassis system. We are therefore making driving more precise and enhancing vibrational comfort,” said Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development at AUDI AG.
The lightweight GFRP springs do not corrode, even after stone chipping, and are impervious to chemicals such as wheel cleaners.