Tougher and lighter than steel, carbon fibre is used across segments such as aerospace, military, civil engineering and motorsports
Electric two-wheeler segment has witnessed a plethora of new brands, along with tons of innovation and unique design formats. A relevant example is EV startup Lapa Electric that has been working to create entirely new experiences for users.
Expected to launch its first electric scooter soon, Lapa has unveiled a first-of-its kind carbon fibre monocoque chassis. This is a first for the electric two-wheeler industry in India.
Lapa Electric carbon fibre monocoque chassis
Carbon fibre has been here for quite some time, with commercial production occurring since several decades. However, its use in everyday commuter two-wheelers is something new. The carbon fibre monocoque chassis prototyped by Lapa is so lightweight that it can be easily lifted over the head. While the weight of the chassis has not been revealed, it could be around 5-10 kg.
Creating the same structure in metal would have increased the weight by a significant percentage. It will depend on the type of metal used such as steel, aluminium or other alloys. While it is featherweight and seems quite fragile, Lapa claims that their carbon fibre monocoque chassis is five times stronger than a similar structure made from steel. It’s stiffer as well, which means it won’t be easily bent or deformed.
Carbon fibre offers various other advantages such as low thermal expansion, chemical resistance and high strength to weight ratio. While metal chassis and plastic panelling weaken with time, a carbon fibre chassis will be largely immune to things like corrosion, UV rays and humidity.
While offering improved durability, Lapa’s carbon fibre monocoque chassis will also allow higher power-to-weight ratio. Range could also be higher. It could be equipped with a relatively smaller battery pack and yet offer adequate range, comparable to industry standards. A small battery pack will help reduce cost of the vehicle.
While carbon fibre offers several advantages, the one reason why it is not widely used is its expensive pricing. Compared to steel, the price of carbon fibre is around 10 times more. It remains to be seen how folks at Lapa will be dealing with this challenge. Or Lapa’s first electric scooter could be positioned as a lifestyle product, in which case, it can be launched at premium pricing.
In addition to the carbon fibre monocoque chassis, Lapa electric scooter will have various other USPs. For example, it is expected to offer best-in-segment storage space. Another interesting detail is spider-web inspired alloy wheels that enhance the scooter’s dynamic profile. Innovations have also been introduced across other components such as the swingarm and suspension setup. More details will be revealed at the time of launch.