Car manufacturers such as Audi, BMW, Daimler, and Lamborghini have launched carbon composite development programs, and manufacturers of electric vehicles (EVs) have followed suit. Meanwhile, the Society of Automotive Engineers International has published its first book on automotive carbon-fiber composites, yet another indication that the material is being taken seriously for more mainstream vehicles.
Earlier this year, Teijin developed an EV concept car with a body structure made entirely of components manufactured with the company's proprietary carbon-fiber-reinforced thermoplastic (CFRTP). The car weighs only 47 kilograms, or 103.4 pounds, approximately one-fifth the weight of a conventional automobile body.
In a related move, Teijin also announced the opening of a pilot plant for fully integrated production of components made of the company's CFRTP material. The plant, which will focus on Teijin's process, will be located in Ehime Prefecture, Japan, on the premises of its Matsuyama factory, and operations are expected to begin in the middle of 2012. The company expects the plant to accelerate its commercialization of CFRTP components for mass-produced automobiles, as well as other industrial uses that may require less structural strength. To date, Teijin has focused its automotive carbon-fiber products on high-end and specialty applications.