Cheaper carbon fibre will slash auto making costs-manufacturer

FRANKFURT, March 28 (Reuters) - Carbon fibre reinforced parts for cars could become more than 70 percent cheaper over the next few years, making them an alternative to standard materials steel and aluminium, an executive at carbon specialist SGL told a German weekly.

“Today the average costs of light-weight carbon fibre parts is 100 euros ($140) per kg, of which 20 euros is for materials and 80 euros for manufacturing,” SGL’s Hubert Jaeger, in charge of technology and innovation, told VDI-Nachrichten.

SGL helps make carbon fibre reinforced parts for BMW’s electric compact car i3 in a joint venture with the German premium carmaker.

Jaeger was quoted as saying he was convinced that manufacturing costs could be reduced by 90 percent, leading to a per kg price of about 30 euros or less.

While that still makes carbon fibre reinforced parts more expensive than metal parts, they have the advantage of being more malleable and not needing an energy-intensive cathodic electrocoat against corrision, he added.

BMW and SGL are planning to double their joint production of carbon-fibre to 6,000 tonnes a year from 3,000 tonnes now, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters in December.

German business daily Handelsblatt at the time reported the move was in response to growing demand expected for BMW’s electric i3 and i8 cars and to BMW planning to use carbon-fibre for its new 7 series. ($1 = 0.7278 Euros) (Reporting by Ludwig Burger, editing by William Hardy)