Teijin/Mitsubishi aim carbon fiber toward auto parts

Teijin Ltd. and Mitsubishi Chemical Corp. have announced plans to begin production of carbon fiber for automotive applications by 2010.

A report from Thomson Financial and Reuters says that according to a story in the Nikkei business daily, carbon fiber manufacturers Teijin Ltd. and chemical producer Mitsubishi Chemical Corp. have announced plans to begin mass production of carbon fiber for use in automotive parts by 2010 to meet growing demand from automakers looking to reduce vehicle weight.

To deal with global warming, Japan, the U.S. and Europe will tighten environmental regulations for automobiles in 2012 and later, the business daily said. Carbon fiber is a quarter the weight of steel and 10 times as strong, but also much more expensive, it said. It sells for thousands of yen per kilogram, while steel goes for around 80,000 yen a ton.

Teijin, which controls about 20 percent of the global carbon fiber market, is ranked second in this field, after Toray Industries Inc., which has a market share of some 30 percent. Teijin plans to start supplying carbon fiber to autoparts manufacturers as early as 2010 through subsidiary Toho Tenax Co., the newspaper said.

Mitsubishi Chemical, a unit of Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corp., plans to step up development of carbon fiber parts by installing equipment for producing prototypes of brake parts and driveshafts at its Kagawa Prefecture facility this year, the Nikkei said. Reuters reports that the companies will first develop parts for high-end vehicles and then migrate to the mass market.

Information: Click here for the full Reuters report.