BMW M6 carbon-fiber roof

BMW M6 carbon-fiber roof

Carbon fiber is seen by many in the auto industry as one of the most effective ways of reducing vehicle weight and thus improving fuel economy and emissions levels, but the relative expense of the material means that it’s still reserved for only a handful of high-end production cars. BMW has effectively used carbon fiber roofs for its M cars to help lower their center of gravity, and Nissan and General Motors have used the composite material to help save weight for the respective GT-R and ZR1 supercars.

For most automakers, mainstream carbon fiber use is still several years away but a number of firms, including Japanese carbon specialist Toray, are working closely with the auto industry to help bring down the cost of the lightweight stuff.

In fact, Toray has already announced a partnership with Daimler to produce carbon fiber parts for the German automaker’s cars and now there are reports coming out of Japan claiming Toray will also supply carbon fiber for Toyota and Subaru.

The Nikkei news daily is reporting that Toray will supply the two Japanese automakers with carbon fiber for car bodies later this year. The first batch of carbon fiber will be used for the hood and roof of the Lexus LFA supercar, which goes into full-scale production in December. Subaru will reportedly sell carbon roofs as an option on its sports cars.

Toray has pioneered a build process for its carbon fiber that reduces is costs by almost half, and this, combined with a rise in steel prices, means the advanced composite material is now looking more and more appealing to automakers around the globe.

[Nikkei via Green Car Congress]