Toray's Carbon Fiber Electric Sports Car: Light Weight, Heavy Performance

Don't call the Teewave AR1 a lightweight... even though it literally is. “Even with a 200kg (440lb) battery,” said Kazumichi Ebisutani, head of Toray Industries' vehicle materials strategy office, “this car weighs 846 kilograms (1,865 pounds)."

The battery is typically the Achilles Heel of electric cars when it comes to range-robbing weight but the Teewave AR1 electric sports car concept tilts the balance back by utilizing significant amounts of super-strong, lightweight carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) in its construction.

The vehicle's lower weight not only extends the driving range – up to 185km (115 miles) on a single charge – but it also means it less electricity is required for it to operate in general. The net result is lower overall CO2 emissions. Summed up Kazumichi Ebisutani, “We've built a car that I'd like to put forward as a real response to environmental issues.”

Toray Industries is Japan's largest manufacturer of carbon fiber and the sleek and snazzy Teewave AR1 (short for “Toray Eco Efficient Advanced Roadster 1”) is the ideal showcase for their expertise in this futuristic material.

Here's a video from DiginfoTV featuring the Teewave AR1 at its Tokyo unveiling on September 14th, 2011:

Besides stretching the envelope on weight and range, the Teewave AR1 drives the automotive use of carbon-fiber to the next level.

Sure, dashboard inlays and gearshift knobs faced with the futuristic material look nice but they don't take advantage of carbon fiber's most appealing attribute: parts made from carbon fiber weigh 75 percent less than their steel equivalents but are up to 10 times stronger. The Teewave AR1 features the extensive use of structural CFRP in the floor, frame, and other parts of the vehicle.

Concepts don't come cheap and the Teewave AR1 is no exception. It's estimated Toray Industries poured a total of US$3.8 million into developing the sleek, stylish and sporty EV in cooperation with UK-based car design firm Gordon Murray.

Looks are just the starting point, however - the prototype has been tested to a top speed of 147kph (92mph). 

There's just one thing the Toray Teewave AR1 electric sports car lacks: a retail sticker price. You're not likely to see one, either.

Much like other concept cars dating back to the 1972 “Reynolds Aluminum Car” (an aluminum-bodied Corvette) and further, the Teewave AR1 is a one-shot deal meant to publicize its parts, not the sum thereof.

That's not to say we won't see something like the Toray Teewave AR1 electric sports car down the road, however. Toray Industries has plans to commercialize carbon fiber-reinforced plastic car parts by 2015 and the company believes it will be able to manufacture cars sticker-priced in the $3 million yen ($40,000) range by then.

They may not look like the Teewave AR1 but if the "concepts" pioneered here can be perfected, then there's still very much to look forward to. (via Mainichi Daily News and MSN Sankei News, top image via DayLife)