SEOUL Aug 14 South Korea's GS Caltex
plans to talk with U.S. electric carmaker Tesla Motors
about supplying its carbon fiber for vehicles, an industry
source familiar with the matter told Reuters, as automakers turn
increasingly towards lightweight materials to cut weight and
raise fuel economy.
GS Caltex also plans to supply its "long-fiber-reinforced
thermoplastic (LFRT)" to Kia Motors for the sunroof
frame of its Sorento sport utility vehicle due to be launched
late this month, the source said on condition of anonymity
because the matter was not public.
That would make the Sorento the first mass-market vehicle to
use the lightweight material, the person added.
"GS Caltex and Tesla officials plan to meet late this month
to discuss carbon fiber supply. It is still in an initial
stage," the source said.
Currently, carbon fiber usage is limited to high-end
vehicles like BMW's i3 electric cars and racing cars,
partly because of its expense. The material can reduce the
weight of a vehicle component by up to 50 percent.
Automakers, under pressure to improve fuel economy, are
increasingly looking at replacing conventional steel with
lightweight materials like carbon fiber and aluminium.
The source did not elaborate on which vehicles and parts for
which Tesla model may use carbon fiber.
A GS Caltex spokesman declined to comment. A spokeswoman at
Tesla declined to comment on whether it plans to use carbon
fiber in future vehicles, while a Kia Motors spokesman was not
immediately available for comment.
(Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Matt Driskill)