General Motors thinks partially-automated cars will hit the road by 2015 and fully autonomous vehicles five years later.
We're used to cars being metal boxes, but in fact the use of plastic has been increasing for decades.
Carbon fiber is 10 times stronger than steel and weighs one-fourth as much. Carbon fiber reinforced plastic can be molded rather than pressed or stamped into shape. The result is a lighter, stronger vehicle body, which is moving quickly from the high-end to the mainstream, and from car bodies to parts like brakes.
Carbon fiber is a big reason automakers didn't go apoplectic when the government said they should double their fleet mileage by 2025. You can combine carbon fiber with electric power, as
Mercedes-Benz did last week in Paris with an experimental car,
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