Carbon fiber is quickly becoming the material of choice for automakers as they seek to reduce the weight of their vehicles, but does bamboo have the potential to replace this material in the future? Bamboo is already used by the surfboard industry, which is eager to replace carbon fiber in automotive applications as well.
What makes bamboo incredibly appealing is that fact that it is entirely renewable, and – combined with an epoxy coating – it is also exceptionally strong and lightweight. According to some sources, bamboo’s strength falls somewhere between fiberglass and carbon fiber. Bamboo is also cheaper than carbon fiber since its very abundant.
Bamboo is also more appealing than carbon fiber because the latter has a detrimental environmental impact. The process of producing a carbon-fiber shell, like the BMW i3’s, requires more energy than conventional steel.
While we have yet to see a production car debut with a bamboo exterior, it is already used in the interior of some vehicles, like the BMW i3. Even though it may be a while until a bamboo wrapped car arrives, design studies like Kenneth Cobonpue and Albercht Birkner’s Phoenix Bamboo Car suggest that it has great potential.