Exel secures deal with Chinese bus builder

Finnish composite manufacturer Exel Composites has secured a new project with Chinese automotive manufacturer Foton Bus and Coach Company to supply pultruded glass fibre composite profiles.

The agreement, signed in February 2024, will see the glass fibre profiles manufactured locally in China. These will reduce both the maintenance requirements and weight of the vehicles, due to composites’ corrosion resistant and lightweight properties. Additionally, the geometric design flexibility of composites enables wider structural engineering possibilities than traditional metals, such as steel and aluminium.

Foton Bus and Coach Company, a subsidiary of the Chinese BAIC company, manufactures a wide range of commercial vehicles, including trucks, buses, vans, and construction vehicles. In line with industry trends, Foton has shifted its focus to electric and hydrogen vehicle manufacturing, particularly in the bus and coach sector.

Exel Composites will produce a series of structural composite profiles for many different bus models. These profiles, including fiber reinforced plastic (FRP) side panels, skirt panels, and fake roofs, are manufactured using pultrusion technology with glass fiber composites. These offer greater tensile strength and durability while reducing density by 30 per cent, compared to traditional aluminum profiles.

“Exel’s profiles improve our design process in ways that are only achievable with composite materials,” explained Mr He, head of group R&D for Foton Bus and Coach Company. “The geometric possibilities are key for complex-shape structural components and weight savings of fiberglass compared to aluminium reduces strain on both the chassis and the battery. What’s more, composite panels don’t rust and can last for decades.”

“Having refined the pultrusion manufacturing process over many decades, we can produce complex geometric profiles that match the strength of traditional aluminium, while being much lighter," explained Kathy Wang, executive VP for industrial solutions business unit at Exel Composites. "At the same time, the finished profile has a smooth surface finish, which eliminates the need for further processing.

“Furthermore, unlike aluminium extrusions, which are limited to 0.3m in width and require multiple connections for larger panels, our composite profiles can extend up to 1.2m wide and 12m long. This ensures structural integrity and solidarity.”

Exel Composites can also use pultrusion for applications including interior air ducts, luggage racks, side shields, and flooring – and pull-winding for small diameter tubes, further reducing the energy consumption and weight of buses.

To find out how composites can augment your industry applications, visit exelcomposites.com and enquire with the team, and to keep on top of all the news with Foton, visit fotonbus.com 



Exel Composites

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