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JEC Composites Exhibition: Road-legal vehicle based on advanced composites opens up alternative powertrain possibilities

Future Fibres Rigging Systems : 26 March, 2013  (Application Story)
Future Fibres and partner Persico SpA are producing prototypes of the carbon composite tub for a new racing roadster, codenamed RP-one. This road-legal British sports car from RPx Automotive will go into production in December 2013. It is part of a new generation of performance vehicles based on low weight rather than engine power.

The upcoming debut of the RP-one is the culmination of five years’ work focused on advanced materials, weight reduction and driving dynamics. Because of its exceptionally light weight and aerodynamic styling, the RP-one does not require a heavy-duty powertrain for top performance. Supercar (0 to 100kph [60mph]) acceleration can be achieved with smaller, more-economical and more-sustainable engines. In fact, the lightweight platform of the RP-one will also serve as a foundation for alternative powertrains such as electric motors.
Carbon fibre composites are used to create the custom-designed, exposed tub of the RP-one, which not only provides exceptional vehicle stiffness but is also a key styling feature. Thanks to an exceptional strength-to-weight ratio, the carbon fibre composite used in the tub weighs only 35kg and makes a major contribution to the weight of the RP-one – a mere 480kg in total. The complete tub structure, which integrates the dashboard and tub cards, weighs less than 55kg. The lighter weight and rigidity of automotive structures made from this advanced material mean high performance can co-exist with environmental goals.
According to Peter Kent, managing director for RPx Automotive, “The advantages of carbon fibre technologies are well known in aviation, Formula One racing and yachting. Now, together with Future Fibres and Persico, we are bringing the performance and environmental benefits of carbon fibre composite to our RP-one roadster. Our goal is to redefine the modern high-performance sports car by integrating next-generation racing technologies within the road-legal car.”
Torbjörn Linderson, Future Fibres product manager, said, “Our work with Persico on the upcoming RP-one racing car demonstrates the advantages of integrating mould making with composites manufacturing capacity. Our combined experience in the marine composites area allowed us to develop a cost-efficient production process for a low-volume, high-precision automotive part.”

Future Fibres is well known for its composite rigging, spars, masts and booms for performance yachting/marine applications. The company is now looking to branch out into non-marine applications, such as automotive (including motor racing), building and construction, cranes, hoisting and lifting equipment. 

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