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Carbon Fiber Body?

Discussion in 'Roadster' started by supersnoop, Jan 20, 2016.

  1. supersnoop

    supersnoop Tesla Roadster #334

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    Everything I read about the roadster says it has a "carbon fiber body." Can anyone detail which parts are actually carbon fiber? I see some parts on ebay that are repaired with bondo (or something similar), but I'm under the impression that won't stick to carbon fiber. I know the trunk lid is carbon fiber, but what about the doors and quarter panels?
     
  2. jbadger

    jbadger Roadster #506

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    I've seen the inside of the doors, so I can confirm they are carbon fiber and Tesla has stated that the panel around the charge port is CF, so i'd imagine the piece on the other side is CF as well. I had my front fascia damaged in an accident and it was not CF.

    That makes me believe all panels besides front and rear bumper are CF.
     
  3. m0rph

    m0rph Member

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    That's what I was told too, but I doubt the hood is CF on mine.
    Besides that, I believe 1.5 cars were built with more premium materials than 2.5's.
     
  4. wiztecy

    wiztecy Active Member

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    #4 wiztecy, Jan 21, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2016
    The 1.5 front bumper (real inside crash bumper) is made out of CF. In later, not sure if the 2.0 had it, but they went for a more inexpensive poly/plastic bumper. Haven't seen a pic of the rear lately exposed, but there's also a bunch of foam in there.

    As for the ebay / bondo. That's plastic they're fixing and I wouldn't touch that crap at all with the crazy prices they want to charge. Did you see that beat up 2.5 rim someone is trying to off? Good luck on that, I'd never trust my or someone elses life nor my car with something that is so essential in safety with your car. You couldn't give me that rim for free, its only worth its price as scrap aluminum now.

    As for your hood m0rph, I'm pretty sure its CF. I don't think anyone would go out of their way to make it in any other material. Tesla never made a non-CF hood.
     
  5. supersnoop

    supersnoop Tesla Roadster #334

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    I'm pretty sure the hood is plastic. The unpainted underside doesn't look like CF. And I don't think you want/need something that strong for a hood. You don't want it coming through the windshield in an accident and decapitating the occupants.
     
  6. wiztecy

    wiztecy Active Member

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    The CF wasn't for strength and nor does it serve that purpose. The main reason for a CF skin is reduction in weight. We'll have to see a busted hood to prove what its made of since mine is painted.
     
  7. supersnoop

    supersnoop Tesla Roadster #334

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    Carbon fiber and plastic have similar weights. Carbon fiber is much more expensive and should be used where weight AND strength are required, whereas plastic is fine when only weight is a consideration.
     
  8. wiztecy

    wiztecy Active Member

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    #8 wiztecy, Jan 21, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2016
    How strength needed for the Roadster's skin? Yes, the density between the two (plastic vs CF) are very similar. And people use CF on skin areas where there's lots of tight corners and tight angles where strength and a good structure is needed, but I don't see any of that on the Roadster. But I'm no expert there. A Roadster done in plastic would look cheap and feel cheap. A Roadster done in fiberglass would be very similar to the Elise and have a extra pounds added. I have a CF hard-top and fiberglass Elise top which is shorter and lower than the Roadster's. However it feels like a lead weight in comparison. I know Elon pushed for the more expensive CF very hard where Martin wanted to go fiberglass due to lower cost in comparison. With that I'm sure Elon was thinking more on aesthetics and feel of a 100k price of the car. I believe he also wanted to go CF due to weight if I'm not mistaken, where others argued it was no worth the cost for the amount of pounds being shed compared to the overall gross weight of the car.

    As for the hood, I'm looking at pics of Roadster crashes and the hood area is quite strong. When it breaks it breaks like a potato chip and is a very clean break. Usually CF or fiberglass when it breaks shows / pulls of some of the mesh with some resin, its not all too clean of a fracture. This weekend I'm going over my my friend's who has a hood that was involved in an accident. If its broken I'll take a close look and pics to see what the material is.

    Here're some interesting clips about Elon & the CF construction during the early days:

    "They decided to go with a carbon-fiber body instead of a polyester glass composite. At Musk's request, they lowered the doorsills — the lowermost part of the door — to make it easier to get in and out of the car. They switched out standard headlights for bespoke ones. Musk thought that the seats were uncomfortable, so they were retooled. Musk didn't like the material of the dashboard, Eberhard recalls, "and wanted something less cheap." Then there was the transmission, which got delayed again and again. As Musk put it, the transmission "is not an inherently difficult item, but if you have two suppliers screw the pooch on you," then you're looking at some tardiness.
    "Each of these is a reasonable decision," Eberhard said. "You have to consider that it's going to cost more money and cost on the schedule, and that was never accounted for.""

    Tesla: The Origin Story - Business Insider


    "Tesla employees soon got to witness the same Musk that SpaceX employees had seen for years. When an issue like the Roadster’s faulty carbon-fiber body panels cropped up, Musk dealt with it directly. He flew to England in his jet to pick up some new manufacturing tools for the body panels and personally delivered them to a factory in France to ensure that the Roadster stayed on its production schedule. The days of people being ambiguous about the Roadster’s manufacturing costs were gone as well."

    https://www.quora.com/How-would-you-describe-Elon-Musks-way-of-managing-people



    "Elon Musk was determined to build “not just the best electric cars, but the best cars.” This was a grand strategy, and a risky one. Every added goodie meant more cost and more time. Among the controversial changes was the lowering of the door sill, which made getting in and out of the car easier, but sacrificed much of the cost savings from using Lotus’s existing chassis. “I was very insistent on things during the design phase, and it is true those things cost money,” Musk told CNN in a 2008 interview, “but you can’t sell a $100,000 car that looks like crap.”

    One major decision concerned the material that would be used for the body. Again, the boys ended up deciding to go all the way, and use the best material available – carbon fiber composite (aka carbon fiber reinforced plastic or CFRP). As strong as steel, as light as aluminum, and much more flexible to work with than either, this space-age stuff is emerging as the ultimate material for automobile exteriors. It still isn’t cheap, and in 2004, deciding to use it was a bold move. Musk was particularly adamant that the Roadster should use carbon fiber, and he eventually convinced the others.
    Once this decision was made, of course, the team was no longer building a modified Elise, but a completely new car, and they had the freedom to design the body however they wanted."



    Charged EVs | New book excerpt: The early days of Tesla


     
  9. slcasner

    slcasner Member

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    On my early 1.5, the framework underneath the body panels of the hood is unfinished carbon fiber. On later cars it was molded plastic, but I don't know at what point the change was made. The body panels are painted on both top and bottom, so I can't tell for sure, but I believe them to be carbon fiber.
     
  10. wiztecy

    wiztecy Active Member

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    Really, such as the support arms and everything that that hood and louvers mount to?
     
  11. dhrivnak

    dhrivnak Active Member

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    Yes my 1.5 is carbon fiber on the hood, roof, trunk lid, trunk and body panels. Also a lot of carbon fiber on the inside. But only the inside and roll bar are good looking carbon fiber. The rest is not finished nearly as well.
     
  12. djp

    djp Roadster 2.0 VIN939

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  13. wiztecy

    wiztecy Active Member

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    Great reference djp, thanks!
     
  14. Mark77a

    Mark77a Member

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    #14 Mark77a, Jan 21, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2016
  15. slcasner

    slcasner Member

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    Yes. You can see that it is roughly layered CF. Later ones are clearly injection molded.
     
  16. tvuolo

    tvuolo Member

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    So around what number did the change happen? I have #265 and my hood framework is injection molded. The rear clamshell framework is rough carbon fiber. I never really thought about the difference, and find the changes and history fascinating.
     
  17. smac

    smac Active Member

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    I wonder if the original factory molds still exist ?

    I know someone that now owns the complete factory body molds to the Evora GTE (even rarer than the Roadster). Lotus had them hidden away in an old part of the factory. He did a deal with them as part of a package to run an ex factory GT car, and has needed them on occasion to reproduce CF panels. (His background is in carbon composites for motorsport).
     
  18. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    Cracked panels should be fairly easy to repair by a good fiberglass shop. I'm not a body shop professional but I did front and rear passenger side fenders on my 1980 Corvette that were heavily cracked from a side impact crash.
     
  19. supersnoop

    supersnoop Tesla Roadster #334

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    But they aren't fiberglass. All of the body panels are carbon fiber. Repairing carbon fiber is going to require an autoclave.
     
  20. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    I've done some work on small pieces of carbon fiber without an autoclave or vacuum bagging. Epoxy resin and carbon fiber cloth work quite well. These aren't structural pieces of course but are still quite strong. I think body panels could be done quite well the same way.
     

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