Looking for cost-effective ways to trim weight and increase fuel economy in its future vehicles, General Motors has signed a co-development deal with Japan's leading carbon fiber and composites expert, Tenjin Limited. The automaker is confident this move will lead to widespread use of Tenjin's innovative carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastic (CFRTP) technology throughout GM's entire model lineup.

"Our relationship with Teijin provides the opportunity to revolutionize the way carbon fiber is used in the automotive industry," said GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky. "This technology holds the potential to be an industry game changer and demonstrates GM's long-standing commitment to innovation."

Ten times as strong as conventional steel but at only one quarter its weight, carbon fiber has long been the preferred material of purpose-built racing machines and exotic supercars. To date, high cost has been its limiting factor, a condition chiefly caused by the amount of time and effort required to produce and process its raw material into finished parts. Tenjin has come up with a proprietary breakthrough that cuts the cycle process to mass-produce carbon fiber-reinforced thermoplastic components to less than one minute. That achievement earned it a 2011 Global Automotive Carbon Composites Technology Innovation Award from Frost & Sullivan.

"Teijin's innovative CFRTP technology, which promises to realize revolutionarily lighter automotive body structures, will play an important role in GM's initiative to bring carbon fiber components into mainstream vehicles," said Norio Kamei, senior managing director of Teijin. "We believe our visionary relationship with GM will lead the way in increased usage of green composites in the automotive industry."

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