Toray will invest a total of around ¥45 billion at these four sites to increase annual carbon fibre production capacity by 6000 tons. This new capacity is expected to come onstream from 2014 through 2015.

Toray currently has an annual production capacity of 17 900 tons of carbon fibre globally. This will increase to 21 100 tons per year by January 2013 with two new lines currently under construction. With the newly announced expansion, the group's overall carbon fibre production capacity will rise to 27 100 tons by March 2015.

Toray reports that global demand for PAN-based carbon fibre was estimated to have expanded to 37 000 tons in 2011 and it is expected to grow at a rate exceeding 15% a year.

Japan

About 50% of the announced investment will be made at Toray's Ehime Plant in Japan to build an integrated production facility of precursor (raw material fiber for carbon fibre) and high-performance small-tow carbon fibre, which is used mainly in aircraft and premium cars.

This line will have a production capacity of 1000 tons a year and is scheduled to start operation in March 2015.

Toray is already carrying out work to increase the Ehime Plant's production capacity of high-performance small-tow carbon fibre by 1000 tons by September 2012. The company says demand for this product has been increasing and so the additional expansion is planned.

International demand

About 90% of the demand for carbon fibre is from outside Japan, Toray says, and the persistently strong yen has created a tough business environment for exports from Japan. However, the company intends to continue with its strategy to maintain and strengthen domestic production bases by leveraging government policy for improving domestic business.

At its three international bases Toray will bolster production of high strength and standard modulus carbon fibre, which has become a standard for industrial and sporting goods applications.

Toray Carbon Fibers Europe SA (CFE), Toray's French subsidiary, will purchase around 160 000 m2 of land at Lacq area from TOTAL SA where it will build a production facility for precursor. This will be the third Toray precursor facility; it already has plants in Japan and the US.

CFE is currently importing precursor from Japan but will switch to its own precursor once the facility becomes operational.

In the US, Toray Carbon Fibers America Inc (CFA) will add a new carbonisation line with an annual capacity of 2500 tons. This will start operations in September 2014. This move is in response to the expanding market for environmental and energy-related applications, including natural gas pressure vessels.

Toray also plans to expand the business in the Latin American market, mainly Brazil, where the market is expected to grow rapidly in the future.

TAK of Republic of Korea will also be constructing a new carbonisation line with an annual capacity of 2500 tons at its Gumi Plant No. 3 (Gumi-si Gyeongsangbuk-do), which is expected to start operations in March 2014.

TAK is currently installing a production facility for high strength and standard modulus carbon fibre with annual capacity of 2200 tonnes to start operating in January 2013.