Later this year, Toray Industries Inc. will begin supplying Toyota Motor Corp. (TMC) and Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (FHI) with carbon fiber for car bodies. This marks the first time that carbon fiber will be used for auto bodies mass-produced in Japan.
Reports indicate that Toyota will use carbon fiber for the hood and roof of the Lexus LFA, a luxury sports car that will start production in December.
Fuji Heavy will offer carbonfiber roofs, which would be an option for its standard-class sports car. Toray’s new production technology has made these new uses of carbon fiber possible because it cuts the costs for dies in half.
Typically, carbon fiber costs are over 20 times higher than those of steel, but with this technology, the gap can be narrowed to about five times. The cost difference has also now become narrower because of the increase in steel prices.
Production of carbonfiber would be increased with the more uses of carbon fiber in car bodies and as a result, costs would be reduced further.
The greater use of carbon fiber in car bodies will result to the addition of 30,000 tons worth of demand per year. This is comparable to the entire demand for carbon fiber currently. [via GreenCarCongress]