DETROIT -- General Motors is teaming up with a major carbon-fiber supplier to develop new types of the strong, lightweight composite for future GM vehicles, including potentially high-volume models sold globally.
GM said last week it is partnering with Teijin Ltd. of Japan, which has developed a technology that it says dramatically speeds production of carbon-fiber material. The faster cycle time could lead to the use of carbon fiber in high-volume vehicles, GM says. Jim Hentschel, GM's executive director for body and exterior, wouldn't predict when the material might be used in GM vehicles.
Carbon fiber is stronger and lighter than steel and aluminum but it costs more, mostly because of its long, labor-intensive production process. As a result, the composite is used only for select parts in low-volume vehicles.
GM says Teijin's technology has the potential to mass produce carbon-fiber composites using thermoplastic material that can be molded in less than one minute, vs. 10 minutes or more for traditional carbon fiber.
The companies didn't disclose financial details of the deal. Teijin will open a technical center in an unspecified location in the northern United States, the companies said.