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Wed, Oct 10, 2007 - Page 10 News List

Toray to mass produce carbon fiber automobiles

AFP , TOKYO

Japan's Toray Industries Inc said yesterday it aimed to become the world's first firm to mass produce car parts made of carbon fiber, which can make vehicles stronger, lighter and more fuel efficient.

Toray said it would invest ¥20 billion (US$170 million) to set up a research and production center in Nagoya by 2010.

"We will accelerate development of carbon fiber components for automobiles as well as for aircraft," spokesman Ichiro Maeda said. "We hope the parts will be widely adopted in mid-class automobiles."

Toray controls more than one-third of the world's market for carbon fiber, which is better known for its use in advanced vehicles like Formula One cars.

The material's high cost has so far limited its use in mass produced automobiles, but Toray hopes demand will grow as production costs decline given carbon fiber's superior strength and lighter weight compared with steel.

Toray already has a lucrative deal to supply carbon fibers to Boeing for its next-generation 787 Dreamliner jet. It aims to more than double its sales to the automobile industry to ¥350 billion by the year to March 2016.

In February, Toray said it would invest ¥55 billion in Japan, France and the US to boost output of carbon fiber, mostly for the Dreamliner which is scheduled to go into service next year.

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