Nikkei. Toray Industries Inc. will start supplying Toyota Motor Corp. (TMC) and Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (FHI) with carbon fiber for car bodies later this year—the first use of carbon fiber for auto bodies mass-produced in Japan.
Toyota reportedly will use carbon fiber for the hood and roof of the Lexus LFA, a luxury sports car to be produced starting in December. Fuji Heavy will sell roofs made from carbon fiber as an optional item for its standard-class sports car.
Such uses of carbon fiber became possible as a result of Toray’s new production technology, which halves costs for dies. Carbon fiber costs are more than 20 times higher than those of steel, but the technology is expected to narrow the gap to about five times.
The rise of steel prices has also helped narrow the cost difference. And more use of carbon fiber in car bodies would increase its production, likely to further reduce costs. Greater use of carbon fiber in car bodies is expected to create 30,000 tons worth of demand per yea—equivalent to all the demand for carbon fiber at present.