General Motors is taking steps to make carbon fiber a major component in their future production vehicles by working with Teijin Ltd. of Japan.
Carbon fiber is a labor-intensive product, meaning it is expensive to implement in production vehicles. That expense generally restricts its use to low-production models like the Chevrolet Corvette Z06. That will all change in the future thanks to a new process that allows Teijiin to make carbon fiber products much faster than previously possible.
“Our relationship with Teijin provides the opportunity to revolutionize the way carbon fiber is used in the automotive industry,” GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky said in a statement. “This technology holds the potential to be an industry game changer and demonstrates GM’s long-standing commitment to innovation.”
Teijin’s new technology uses thermoplastic material to allow carbon fiber parts to be molded in less than a minute instead of the traditional method, thermoset, that takes ten minutes or more per piece.
“It’s easier to handle and quicker to mold,” Jim Hentschel, GM’s executive director for body and exterior, said in an interview. “That’s what allows us to be able to introduce this technology into more mainstream, high-volume vehicles.”
Carbon fiber is stronger and ligher than aluminum and steel, making it a valuable asset for GM as it tries to increase fuel efficiency in new models.
The specifics behind the deal aren’t available yet, but neither company is exchanging equity in the process. Teijin will, however, be opening a U.S. techincal center to handle their business with GM.
[Source: Automotive News]