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Mercedes signs joint venture to build carbonfibre parts

Mon, 24 Jan 2011

Not to be outdone by BMW’s joint venture with the SGL Group to manufacturer commercially viable carbonfibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) for the electric Megacity Vehicle, Mercedes has announced a joint venture with Japanese company Toray Industries to manufacturer and market its on CFRP automotive parts. The deal was signed in Germany today, with Toray taking a 50.1% stake, Daimler holding 44.9% and the remaining 5% being taken by other shareholders.

The two companies started working together in March 2010, and while Toray has been working on the materials and moulding processes, Merc has designed the automotive parts and the technologies to join the parts together. Using Toray’s Short Cycle Resin Transfer Moulding, the pair plan to start supplying mass-produced CFRP parts for cars that will go on sale in 2012.

Toray will build the CFRP at its factory in France, and the new SL roadster will be the first vehicle to features the parts. It should help Merc meet its goal of reducing the body-in-white weight of its cars by 10% compared with the previous models. As part of the process, Mercedes says it will ‘actively adopt CFRP parts and increase the number of models using such parts’.

Mercedes believes the weight of a vehicle accounts for 23% of its fuel consumption during urban driving. The company says a 100kg weight reduction in a new model will save between 0.3 and 0.6 litres of fuel for every 62 miles of urban driving, the equivalent of between 7.5 and 12.5g/km CO2.

By Ben Pulman