Tech: Audi Putting Glass Fiber Reinforced Polymer Springs on Production Cars

Remember the days when automobiles were made almost exclusively from steel. If the Germans get their way, they could be gone forever. While BMW is working with carbon fiber reinforced plastic on the i cars, Audi has also announced some composite material replacements.
Audi GFRP springs 1 photo
Photo: Audi
The regular steel springs will be replaced by lighter fiberglass ones on a yet unnamed "upper mid-size model"  coming out later this year. It's likely the car they're referring to is a member of the A7 family, a facelift for which has been unveiled but is not yet on sale.

The new springs were developed in partnership with an Italian parts supplier and are made from glass fiber-reinforced polymer (GFRP). They're 40% lighter compared with steel ones and come with numerous other benefits.

Where a regular spring would weigh 2.7 kilograms (6.0 lb) per corner, a GFRP spring with the same properties is much lighter at approximately 1.6 kilograms (3.5 lb). That's not all though. These new Audi springs will not rust, last just as long as normal steel ones and aren't vulnerable to cleaning chemicals like the ones in car washes. The automaker also says GFRP transmits fewer vibrations, making the ride more pleasant for the passengers.

GFRP is used in a number of different industries already, as a rebar replacement in construction and in sports equipment. But how is Audi using it in cars? The core of the new springs is only a few millimeters wide and around. A weaving machine wraps more fiberglass strands at 45 degrees to the longitudinal axis to create a strong and flexible structure that's then dipped in resin. The whole thing is then baked in to cure at over 100 degrees Celsius.

“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.
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About the author: Mihnea Radu
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Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
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