• Aug 5, 2008

If you were looking at carbon fiber as the magical lightweight solution to the parallel automotive woes of low power-to-weight ratios and high fuel consumption, we have some potentially disappointing news for you. Two of the world's largest suppliers of carbon fiber have announced that they are raising their prices. And not by a little, either, with the going rate for the high-tech material rising by 10 to 30 percent in one shot.

The simultaneous announcement from Toray Industries Inc. (the #1 supplier of carbon fiber) and Mitsubishi Rayon Co. (the third largest) marks the first time both companies have universally raised their prices at the same time. The development would border on price-fixing if not for the fact that the second biggest carbon fiber manufacturer, Teijin Ltd., didn't participate. However Teijin is expected to announce its own price hike sometime this week, as well.

We all expected prices to drop as use of the exotic material became more commonplace in automotive, aerospace and commercial applications. However the rising costs of raw materials have contributed to the higher price. They're at Y4,000 (~$37) per ton now and are expect to go up by between Y400 and Y1,200 per ton. Because of the high demand for carbon fiber, the price increase is expected to take immediate effect. As for the impact on he automotive industry, it could mean price increases for cars using the material, while the development of new cars is likely to forgo employing carbon fiber in their construction for other materials like aluminum and plastic. Hopefully Honda and Nissan finish developing their mass-market carbon fiber sooner rather than later.

[Source: TradingMarkets.com via Carbon Fiber Gear]



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  • 23 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      I thought there was an excess of carbon, and it was going to kill us all? Footprint and all! :rolleyes:

      With all of this CO2 that people are so affraid of, and sequestering, and everything...

      Can someone not split that off into graphite material, and O2? More oxygen to breathe, and more carbon for carbon fiber!

      Or we could just let the plants metabolize it, like the world has done for eons upon eons.

      Carbon is one of the most abundant elements on this planet, it even has it's own branch of chemistry. (organic)

      Gee, then why aren't diamonds and carbon fiber more prevalent? :rolleyes: again. It of course isn't that simple.

      At least we can still get graphite pencils... before those get too rare.

      [/remove tongue from cheek, at least a bit.]
      • 6 Years Ago
      We already have mass-market carbon fiber.
        Carlos
        • 6 Years Ago
        Mass market as in every car is made out of CF?
        • 6 Years Ago
        The weave pattern verniers on Pep Boys "carbon fiber" parts don't count :)
      • 6 Years Ago
      I think the traditional CF companies are scared of the start-ups that are well on their way to making CF stamp-able in a press just like rolled steel body panels for cars.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Ban carbon!
      • 6 Years Ago
      The Dreamliner and A-380 are sucking the carbon fibre industry dry; this is not a surprise...
      • 6 Years Ago
      It's interesting that carbon fiber is increasing in price as lumber is decreasing because of a US housing bust. Rayon is made from wood pulp which is currently cheaper than usual. Carbon fiber is made from rayon that is essentially run through ovens until carbon is the only material left in the fiber.

      This price hike could be demand driven as auto manufacturers are considering using CF in mass produced vehicles (think Prius/CR-V) and airplane manufacturers are using CF in their new models.

      I don't even want to go into the environmental debate. I don't join in debates where there are only two sides.

      1. "Green" (smug, fascist)
      2. "Not-Green" (not in a position to make too many choices about how green they are, annoyed)
      • 6 Years Ago
      Something here doesn't compute, to this layman at least. Hot rolled steel (which I believe is what is used in automotive applications, but correct me if I'm wrong) is currently selling for $740 per ton (http://www.econstats.com/rt_steel.htm). Carbon fiber, according to this, is selling for $37 per ton. So steel is TWENTY times more expensive than CF?
        • 6 Years Ago
        I'm pretty sure that number is off by a factor of about a thousand. Found a USA Today article from last year saying that prices had increased to $20 a pound, which would be $40,000 a ton. Seems reasonable considering that with the light weight of carbon fiber, a ton is a lot of material. Do some fact checking next time Autoblog.

        http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/manufacturing/2007-06-05-carbon-fibers-usat_N.htm
        • 6 Years Ago
        That's what I thought at first too polar, but when you click through to the article it makes it sound like the finished product.

        "The current price is around Y4,000 ($US37.01) per ton, so prices will go up by a range between 400 yen and 1,200 yen per ton if the full hikes go through. "
        • 6 Years Ago
        The raw material is selling for that, NOT the woven fiber or the fiber itself.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Steel is very cheap to work. You can stamp it or draw it in no time. Laying up CF takes a lot of work. This is the same thing with FRP ("fiberglass" like Vette bodywork) versus steel. The FRP is much cheaper to buy but takes more effort to work into shape.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I smell BS....a price hike just in time..how about that.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Please,Can some one tell me the exact cost of Carbon fiber per ton?
      And Sylramic-iBN is a silicon carbide fiber used for SiCf/SiCm composites.
      Any idea how much it costs?
      • 6 Years Ago
      mk:

      Thanks for your insights, your intelligent opinion is highly valued by the scientific community :rolleyes: ...

      Back to the topic, CF is in tight supply and that's why it's expensive...even though production has been ramped up by the major manufacturers.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Gosh, I wonder if they anticipated that, and locked in long-term contracts with their suppliers?

      Nah. Probably not.
      • 6 Years Ago
      is that a ZR-1 in the picture? just curious.
        • 6 Years Ago
        It's the M6, check the image tag.
        • 6 Years Ago
        BMW M3 or M6 I think
        • 6 Years Ago
        Either New M3 or M6. Orrr maybe a M3 CSL e46!
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