The joint venture will established in Esslingen, Germany, in the first quarter of 2011 with a capital of around €825 000.

Under the Joint Development Agreement signed in March last year, Toray, in addition to developing optimal carbon fibre intermediate materials for CFRP, has been working on the design and moulding processes, with Daimler taking responsibility for designing parts and developing technologies for joining of the parts.

By bringing together their respective strengths, the companies report that they have succeeded in developing an innovative technology for mass-production of CFRP parts with a significantly shorter moulding cycle.

The partners plan to start supplying the mass-produced CFRP parts utilising Short Cycle Resin Transfer Moulding (RTM), a CFRP moulding process developed by Toray for Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz passenger vehicles to be launched in 2012.

The two companies intend to continue promoting their joint development to establish an overwhelmingly cost competitive mass production technology. The joint venture will manufacture and market CFRP parts to further promote the adoption of carbon fibre composite materials in the automotive field even beyond the current applications in e.g. sport cars.

Lightweight cars

Lightweight construction is an integral part of Daimler’s strategy towards sustainable mobility. The company has set a development goal of reducing the body-in-white weight by up to 10% compared with the preceding model for all Mercedes-Benz vehicles with the aim of further improving fuel efficiency and reducing exhaust gas emissions. In order to achieve this goal, Daimler has been working on the principle of allocating 'the right material in the right place'. As part of this move, the company plans to actively adopt CFRP parts and increase the number of models using such parts.

Reducing the vehicle weight for boosting fuel efficiency is an important issue in the automotive industry, notes Daimler. The move towards adoption of carbon fibre is expected to soon gain momentum as a solution for significantly reducing the automobile body weight. This weight-saving initiative by Toray and Daimler would partially offset any increase in weight caused by additional safety and comfort features or new technologies used in alternative drive systems. Furthermore CFRP parts contribute to an increased stiffness of the vehicle body, thereby further increasing the crash integrity of the Page 3 passenger cell as well as the comfort.

Toray has identified the expansion of its carbon fibre composite business in the automotive market as one of its top priorities. In June 2008, the company established the Automotive Centre (AMC), a development base for automotive applications, and the Advanced Composite Centre (ACC), a centre for developing technology and applications for CFRP products, in April 2009. These centres serve as the core entities of the Toray A&A (Automotive & Aircraft) Centre in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, its technology development centre for automotive and aircraft applications.

  • BMW and SGL Carbon have also established a joint venture based around carbon fibre. They are building a new plant in the USA to produce carbon fibre for use in BMW’s Megacity Vehicle, an electric car scheduled for launch by 2015.