Carbon fiber has always been the material of choice when it comes to high-performance auto exotica. The woven synthetic is lighter and tougher than metal, helping to reduce overall car weight and improve rigidity. Because of its cost, carbon fiber use in the automotive industry has been limited only to high-end models, but that selection of cars could soon become much more exclusive. According to a recent report from USA Today, the wholesale price for the high-tech material has quadrupled in the last year, going from $5 to $20.

The main reason behind the price surge is the emergence of next-generation airliners from Boeing and Airbus that use composite materials to reduce the weight and therefore minimise the cost of flying the plane. The price savings aren't insignificant, either. In an industry that works hard to shave points of a percent off the operating cost, these planes offer decreases of up to 20%. Carbon fiber manufacturers are having a tough time keeping up with demand as order books for both companies become longer than those at Ferrari or Lamborghini.

The increase has already affected at least one carmaker – Saleen, who builds the S7 supercar in California. According to the article, prices of the $580,000 car have been raised by $25,000 to cover the extra cost. Lately, we’ve seen the use of carbon fiber filter down to models such as the BMW M3 and Mercedes CLK Black Series, but this could soon end if the cost keeps increasing.

There is some hope in the form of carbon manufacturers increasing production, but this could take years, by which time the damage will already be done.