Honda and Nissan are looking for ways to make cars lighter, better, and more recyclable, both for their own benefits and their customers. We've heard about the increased use of aluminum to save weight; next on the heavy R&D frontier could be carbon fiber. Both companies have teamed up with Japanese carbon fiber company Toray, and Mitsubishi Rayon -- a Japanese version of DuPont -- to research new, less expensive carbon fiber for cars.

Their efforts will be helped by the government, which is injecting two billion yen into the project over five years. The plan is that by the middle of the next decade, they'll be able to mass produce a cost effective carbon fiber and use it to reduce the weight of cars by 40-percent. And when they're finished with it, they will also be able to recycle it to reduce production costs.

The current price of carbon fiber makes its use prohibitive except for ornamentation or for use on the most expensive cars. With the price of steel -- and cars -- expected to keep climbing, the mass produced, recyclable carbon fiber will make financial sense in the not-too-distant future. Add in the fuel savings from lighter vehicles, and fewer emissions, and it looks like everyone wins. Thanks for the tip, David!

[Source: Reuters via Carbon Fiber Gear, Photo: p914 | Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0]

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