AbstractThe development of lightweight hybrid metal–polymer structures has recently attracted interest from the transportation industry. Nevertheless, the possibility of joining metals and polymers or composites is still a great challenge. Friction Spot Joining (FSpJ) is a prize-winning friction-based joining technique for metal–polymer hybrid structures. The technology is environment-friendly and comprises very short joining cycles (2 to 8 s). In the current work, aluminum alloy 7075-T6 and carbon-fiber-reinforced polyphenylene sulfide (CF-PPS) friction spot joints were produced and evaluated for the first time in the literature. The spot joints were investigated in terms of microstructure, mechanical performance under quasi-static loading and failure mechanisms. Macro- and micro-mechanical interlocking were identified as the main bonding mechanism, along with adhesion forces as a result of the reconsolidated polymer layer. Moreover, the influence of the joining force on the mechanical performance of the joints was addressed. Ultimate lap shear forces up to 4068 ± 184 N were achieved in this study. A mixture of adhesive–cohesive failure mode was identified, while cohesive failure was dominant. Finally, a qualitative comparison with other state-of-the-art joining technologies for hybrid structures demonstrated that the friction spot joints eventually exhibit superior/similar strength than/to concurrent technologies and shorter joining times.