What Does Carbon Fiber Actually Do for Your Car?

Carbon fiber has quickly gained popularity in the automotive world. What used to be something reserved for specialty cars has now become something you see in many consumer sports cars and even some trucks. It serves as a unique design feature that many people love — and even try to replicate using vinyl wraps — but it is more than just a cosmetic enhancer. In fact, carbon fiber is for something much more than good looks, though we don’t mind seeing as much of it as possible. It’s structural rigidity and light-weight nature makes it one of the best building materials for any car.

Carbon fiber is structurally rigid

Composites are becoming more and more popular in the automotive world. What was once reserved for high-end luxury and sports cars, race cars, and exotics has slowly become accessible to consumer cars. Carbon fiber is structurally rigid and more flexible than traditional car materials like steel, but there is much more to it than that. It is also lightweight, and weight reduction does a lot for a car that people don’t tend to recognize.

carbon fiber trim that comes along with the Recaro package for the Ford F-150 Raptor off-road pickup truck
Carbon Fiber Interior Trim | Ford Raptor Recaro Package, Ford

It’s an aesthetic design element

There is no reason you can’t paint over carbon fiber just like you can steel or fiberglass. Individuals and manufacturers chose not to because there is something inherently beautiful about woven carbon fiber. Whether it is used as small design features to accent the car or the entire car shows the exposed weave, it can be a stunning addition to any car. That makes it not only practical but also beautiful.

The Koenigsegg Regera KNC at the Geneva International Motorshow 2019 | Martyn Lucy, Getty Images

Power to weight ratio

It’s become so customary for us to judge how fast a car is by simply looking at numbers like horsepower, 0 – 60mph time, and quarter-mile time (special thanks to Fast and Furious for that one). There is much more to making a refined sports car than just power, however, and that seems to be something many people forget. The most powerful car in the world is still slow if it’s too heavy, and that’s why the power to weight ratio of a car is important too.

Carbon fiber can be used for so many elements of a car. From the chassis to the body itself, this unique composite maintains the car’s structural rigidity and helps to keep the weight down. In fact, it’s even lighter than aluminum and still more stable.

The carbon monocoque chassis of the De Tomaso P72
The carbon monocoque chassis of the De Tomaso P72 | De Tomaso Automobili

Why Do so Many Expensive Cars Use Carbon Fiber?