TOKYO -- Japanese materials maker Toray Industries has unveiled a new concept car to showcase its advanced technology, as the manufacturer hopes to strengthen ties with automakers.
The concept car, Teewave AC1, is made of materials that the company has developed for electric, fuel cell and gasoline vehicles. The car also features exposed carbon fiber propeller shafts, which are normally hidden.
Toray showed the concept car, its first in five years, at the Toray Advanced Materials Exhibition 2016, which began on Thursday. The car is designed to provide solutions for making vehicles lighter, safer and more environment-friendly.
Yukio Ishino, director of the company's automotive materials strategic planning department, said the concept car includes materials such as carbon fibers, lithium-ion battery separators and heat-resistant functional resins. He said the concept car features hydrogen tanks, gasoline engine piping and lithium-ion batteries all at the same time, in order to show the full range of Toray's materials.
The company has the largest share of the global carbon fiber market, and its business making carbon fibers for aircraft has grown steadily. It is hoping the material will be used in more automobiles, too. While its carbon fibers are being adopted by European luxury cars, the company hopes they will also be used in more common passenger cars.
Cars nowadays are made of various materials such as steel, aluminum and resin. Simply proposing to replace steel with carbon fiber is not enough; that is why Toray built a concept car made of its competitive materials.
Toray is proposing eco-friendly seats made of plant-based fiber instead of urethane. The company also exhibited seats made of whole garment fiber, finished by heat.
Toray has also introduced technology to improve safety. It controls a large share of the market for fibers for air bags, which it hopes will come into wider use. For example, when a pedestrian bumps into optical fiber sensors installed on the front bumper of a vehicle, an air bag can inflate to protect the pedestrian.