French carbon fibre manufacturer becomes Japanese
Japanese Toray Industries has totally acquired the French carbon fibre manufacturer Société des Fibres de Carbone S.A. (SOFICAR) and the company will be renamed as Toray Carbon Fibers Europe S.A.
Toray Industries was already the owner of 70 % of SOFICAR and bought now the remaining 30% of the shares from Arkema. The French company was established in 1982 as a joint venture with Elf Acquitaine. At that time Toray owned 35% and Elf Aquitaine 65% of the company.
SOFICAR disposes of an actual installed yearly production capacity of 5200 t and Toray plans to move the company nearer to the integrated value chain of carbon fibre Torayca® and to expand the activities by installing new production lines of raw material fibre (precursor) and also diversifying into future aircraft application. The carbonisation capacity will be as well expanded.
2011 global demand for polyacrylonitrile (PAN) based carbon fibre is estimated at close to 40000t and should further grow at annual rate of 15%. Viewing this future potential Toray will enhance application developments in the fields of aerospace, sporting goods and general industry and by reinforcing the production network in Japan, France and the U.S. and by adding 2013 a new production site in Korea.
Toray has also an important joint venture in the field of carbon fibre reinforced composites with German automotive Daimler AG and such lightweight composites are already to be found in 2500 produced Mercedes SLR McLaren Supersport cars and next summer the boot lid of the SL 63 AMG Sports Coupé will also use fibre composites. In use are further 14000 front axle leaf springs for the Mercedes Sprinter and every second seat heating system built into Mercedes cars entail elements made of carbon fibre.