US Cytec targets luxury performance autos for composite growth

19 July 2013 19:41  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US-based composites producer Cytec Industries considers the luxury-performance automobile segment as a potentially growing market for its materials, the company's CEO said on Friday.

Cytec typically targets high-end automobile segments because they can afford to buy more expensive materials such as composites.

Composite content can approach 75% for supercars such as those made by Lamborghini and Ferrari, said Shane Fleming, Cytec CEO. He made his comments during an earnings conference call.

The content drops steeply to 5-10% for luxury sports cars, as in some of the high-end models made by BMW and Mercedes, he said.

Cytec is targeting the luxury-performance automobile segment, which should have a higher composite content since these vehicles use the material in their frames and chassis, among other parts, Fleming said.

He estimated that companies produce 10,000-50,000/year of these vehicles, and they cost upward of $100,000 (€76,000). Composites could make up 50% of the weight of these vehicles.

Composites are made of two different materials such as epoxy resin and carbon fibre. The carbon fibre uses acrylonitrile (ACN) as a feedstock.

Automobile producers are adopting carbon-fibre composites because it allows them to lower the weight of their vehicles without sacrificing performance.

Those composites, though, come at a cost, perhaps $5,000-10,000/automobile, and that is too high for mass-produced vehicles such as family sedans, Fleming said.

"There needs to be a lot of processing technology developed to not necessarily lower the cost of the materials but to lower the production costs, to make car parts in very high volumes, serial production, at the lower cost required," he said.

"I think there needs to be some fundamental technology development to make that worthwhile," he said.

Fleming guessed that mass-produced automobiles will need 10 years and beyond before a typical family sedan would have a significant amount of carbon-fibre composites.

"There has got to be work done to take that cost down further," he said.

($1 = €0.76)

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