Daimler and Toray to establish JV for carbon-fiber based automobile parts; new production and joining process enables large-scale production
Toray Industries, Inc. and Daimler AG are forming a joint venture in Esslingen, Germany, for manufacturing and marketing of Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastics (CFRP) automobile parts. The name of the JV is still to be determined; Toray will hold 50.1%, Daimler 44.9%, and others, 5%.
Under a Joint Development Agreement (JDA) signed in March last year (earlier post), 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. The companies succeeded in developing a novel technology for mass-production of CFRP parts with a significantly shorter molding cycle: Short Cycle Resin Transfer Molding (SCRTM).
The partners plan to start supplying the mass-produced CFRP parts utilizing SCRTM 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, 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.