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What is the lightest material for car body panels?

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Quick Answer

The lightest composite material available to make car body panels is carbon fiber. Carbon fiber is one-fifth the weight and stronger than steel.

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As of 2015, carbon fiber is being tested to be used on luxury end cars, according to SAE International. The downside to using carbon fiber as a factory body panel is the cost of production. However, aftermarket carbon fiber hoods and panels can still be purchased and installed on a vehicle.

Carbon fiber must be properly reinforced with Kevlar in order to be structurally sound. If not, the material is easy to break. Unfortunately, when a carbon fiber panel is broken, the whole piece must be replaced, as it is not possible to fix the damaged area without producing the panel in its entirety.

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