Behind this garage door is a vehicle that probably everyone has seen before. It is the Mercedes-Benz SLK, a roadster introduced by Mercedes-Benz in 1996. The vehicle is related to the C-Class and is known for its foldable steel roof. However, there is also a hidden innovative solution which will be presented here. This is the rear wall, which has a special vaulted structure and has been ensuring less weight in the SLK since 2004.
The use of carbon fibre reinforced plastics (CFRP) has been state of the art for aerospace applications for several years. In the automotive industry, there are vehicles in which CFRP is used, too. The comparatively expensive material was previously not found in rail vehicles. However, the increasing desire for energy efficiency is also leading to a rethinking in this industry. After all, every tonne of weight saved on the vehicle not only reduces the axle loads and wear and tear on the railways. It also leads to energy savings of 0.7-22kWh per 100km.