German-based Daimler AG and Japan's Toray Industries have joined forces to manufacture carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP) for the automotive industry. Though the name of the joint venture has yet to be determined, Toray's stake will stand at 50.1 percent, Daimler's at 44.9, and other unnamed partners will hold a five-percent share.

Under terms of the joint venture agreement, Toray will handle the development of carbon fiber materials for use in CFRP and Daimler will be tasked with designing the automotive parts and manufacturing the finished product. The duo aims to launch their mass-produced CFRP line in 2012, debuting the lightweight materials on an upcoming Mercedes-Benz passenger vehicle.

The use of CFRP will assist Mercedes-Benz in reaching its goal of reducing vehicle mass by up to 10 percent compared to preceding models and should, via this cut in poundage, lead to improvements in fuel efficiency and a reduction in CO2 emissions for M-B's upcoming CFRP-equipped autos.

[Source: Daimler]
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Daimler and Toray to Establish Joint Venture for Manufacturing and Marketing of carbon-fiber based automobile parts

Jan 24, 2011

Targeted mass production of high-tech lightweight components significantly improves fuel economy and reduces CO2 emissions of cars

New production and joining process enables large-scale production

Toray Industries, Inc. (headquarters: Chuo-ku, Tokyo; President: Akihiro Nikkaku; hereinafter referred to as "Toray") and German automobile manufacturer Daimler AG (headquarters: Stuttgart, Germany), announced that the companies agreed to establish the joint venture (headquarters: Esslingen, Germany), for manufacturing and marketing of Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastics (CFRP) automobile parts. The companies signed a joint venture contract today.

Under the Joint Development Agreement signed in March last year, Toray, in addition to developing optimal carbon fiber intermediate materials for CFRP, has been working on the design and molding processes, with Daimler taking responsibility for designing parts and developing technologies for joining of the parts. By bringing together their respective strengths, the companies have succeeded in developing an innovative technology for mass-production of CFRP parts with a significantly shorter molding cycle. The partners plan to start supplying the mass-produced CFRP parts utilizing Short Cycle Resin Transfer Molding (RTM), an innovative CFRP molding process technology developed by Toray for Daimler's Mercedes-Benz passenger vehicles to be launched in 2012.

As the world's largest manufacturer of carbon fibers, Toray has identified expansion of its Carbon Fiber Reinforced Composite Business in the automotive field as one of its top priorities. In June 2008, the company established the Automotive Center (AMC), a comprehensive development base for automotive applications, and the Advanced Composite Center (ACC), a center for developing technology and applications for CFRP products, in April 2009. These centers serve as the core entities of the A&A (Automotive & Aircraft) Center in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, its comprehensive technology development center for automotive and aircraft applications, and are involved in the development of optimal materials and processes for automotive applications.

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 forcing developments of technologies based 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 automobile industry. The move towards adoption of carbon fiber 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 passenger cell as well as the comfort.

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 fiber composite materials in the automotive field even beyond the current applications in e.g. sport cars.

Overview of the joint venture company
1. Name: tbd
2. Business: Manufacture and sales of CFRP automobile parts
3. Location: Esslingen, Germany
4. Establishment: First quarter 2011
5. Capital: 825,000 euro (about 95 million yen)
6. Investment ratio: Toray - 50.1%, Daimler – 44.9%, Other - 5.0%

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