Japan's Toray Industries Inc. said it is aiming to become the world's first company to mass produce car parts made of carbon fiber, which can make vehicles stronger, lighter and more fuel efficient. The company will invest 20 billion yen (US$170 million) to set up a research and production center in Nagoya, central Japan by 2010.
"We will accelerate development of carbon fiber components for automobiles as well as for aircraft," Toray spokesman Ichiro Maeda said. "We hope the parts will be widely adopted in mid-class automobiles."
The firm controls more than one third of the world's market for carbon fiber, which is better known for its use in advanced vehicles like Formula One cars. The material's high cost has so far limited its use in mass produced automobiles, but Toray hopes demand will grow as production costs decline given carbon fiber's superior strength and lighter weight compared with steel.
The company already has a lucrative deal to supply carbon fibers to Boeing for its next-generation 787 Dreamliner passenger jet. In February, the company announced it would invest 55 billion yen in Japan, France and the U.S. to boost output of carbon fiber, mostly for Boeing's Dreamliner.
Toray says it aims to more than double its sales to the automobile industry to 350 billion yen by the year to March 2016.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007