The automotive is a sector where energy consumption during the
use phase prevails over the production and the end-of-life phase.
Therefore, a lot of research and innovations have aimed at
replacing classical steel parts by lighter materials like light alloys
and polymer composites. While composites are very attractive
for the use phase of cars, their introduction suffers from the limited
end-of-life options for composite structures. Due to the restrictions
imposed by the European ELV directive, the use of non-recyclable
composite components in car manufacturing is not obvious.
An extensive life cycle analysis for a reference car design was
conducted to study the effects of replacement of conventional
steel structures by lightweight carbon fibre composite alternatives.
The study also takes second order effects in the design of the car
into account, such as the required motor power. The obtained
results show the trend towards more intensive use of carbonfibre
composites in car design desires some nuancing, and the
opportunities and threats are identified.