The use of composites in automobiles is not new. Chevrolet Corvette bodies have been made of fiberglass-reinforced plastics since 1953 and more than 1.5 million cars have been sold. In 2018, Corvettes with the Carbon 65 Edition package (Z30) will have carbon fiber composite rear spoilers, quarter ducts, steering wheels, ground effects, hood sections, and roofs and tonneau inserts.
The Z30 carbon fiber upgrade package will cost $15,000. Carbon-fiber composite monocoque structural cores, reinforced body panels, molded suspensions, wing or spoilers, transmission-housing components and brake rotors are utilized to improve performance in many sports and racing super-cars where cost is not a factor.
The image below shows the Alpha Romeo chassis being manufactured from carbon fiber composites in a labor intensive process, which is viable for high-end vehicles.
While composites and carbon fiber composites, in particular, have specific strength and specific modulus property advantages over steel and aluminum in light-weighting vehicle designs for high-performance, composites adoption remains low in high volume production vehicles due to cost considerations, property limitations, manufacturing process factors and automotive design methods.