BMW’s Hinrich J. Woebcken has two words for you: carbon fiber

Sep 25, 2012 | 05:29 PM | Jo Isenberg

While Ford Motor Co. readies to take one of the biggest gambles in its’ storied history--by outfitting its best-selling F-150 pickup truck with a mostly aluminum versus steel body in a bid to pump up fuel economy, BMW has been driving deeper and deeper into carbon fiber technology.

Hop in the passenger’s seat and ride along as Inner Circle cruises the dynamic automotive materials landscape with Hinrich J. Woebcken, purchasing and supplies network senior vice president indirect purchasing, and the folks that bring you “the ultimate driving machine.” (BMW’s Woebcken was interviewed on the sidelines of Steel Success Strategies XXVII, June 2012).

Inner Circle: Let’s start with an easy one. What is your fix on the future of steel in auto applications?
Herr Woebcken: Steel has proven successful over many decades at taking on the challenge of other materials. We also see steel as a very important part of the choice of materials in the future for our products. But it is of course, as it has been in the past, challenged by other materials, mainly because of strength and weight reduction. There are people who say maybe in 25 years in time, there will be no steel in cars. This is a very aggressive assumption. The advantages of other materials are challenging steel. The process for steel replacement is evolutionary, not revolutionary.
Inner Circle: At what rate is that evolution progressing? How does the material content of today’s vehicle differ from what it was five years ago at BMW? What materials are gaining ground at the fastest rate? ....

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