In collaboration with Teijin, a Japan-based chemical, pharmaceutical and information technology company, General Motors has chosen to use carbon fibre reinforced thermoplastic (CFRTP) in its high production vehicle. This is said to be the first time that this material is being used for mass production vehicles.
Teijin’s Sereebo will be used to manufacture the optional CarbonPro pickup box jointly developed by Teijin and GM for the GMC Sierra Denali 1500 and GMC Sierra AT4 1500. Specifically, the pickup box’s inner headboard, side and floor panels will be made with Sereebo. Following production startup in early June, GMC Sierra CarbonPro Editions for both vehicles will begin appearing at select GMC dealerships in the U.S. this summer. The CarbonPro panels will be produced at Continental Structural Plastics’ Huntington, Indiana, manufacturing facility. Part of the Teijin Group company, Continental Structural Plastics provides technologies in lightweight materials and composite solutions for the automotive, heavy truck, HVAC and construction industries.
Sereebo used for CarbonPro contains randomly-orientated, isotropic carbon fiber in a polyamide matrix resin. Manufactured using, what is claimed to be, the world’s first mass-production technology for CFRTP, the molding time for Sereebo is approximately one minute, which is significantly shorter than the molding time for conventional carbon fiber reinforced thermoset plastics (CFRP). Compared to steel, CarbonPro is claimed to be 40 percent lighter, offers 10 times greater impact resistance, is more corrosion-resistant, and is even more readily recyclable. Finally, because of its material characteristics, Sereebo offers extended design flexibility and freedom, which allowed GM engineers to mold in many of the unique features of the CarbonPro box.
Carbon fibre reinforced thermoplastic in a General Motors truck
Teijin has been developing leading-edge composite product technologies and applications since establishing the Teijin Composites Innovation Center in 2008. In 2011, the company developed the mass-production technology for CFRTP, realising a production interval (takt) time of just one minute. Teijin subsequently established a technical facility in the U.S. and a pilot plant for the fully integrated production of CFRTP in Japan. Since branding its CFRTP product as Sereebo in 2012, Teijin developed high-volume production methods in collaboration with domestic and international partners, including GM. After acquiring CSP, a global leader in automotive lightweight composite technologies in 2017, Teijin established an organisational framework for composites production, sales and evaluation in North America. GM’s adoption of Sereebo for CarbonPro is a momentous step forward for CFRTP’s use in high-volume vehicles.
Teijin is expanding its product portfolio ranging from materials to component design, as well as its global supply chain, in an effort to help automakers reduce vehicle weights. Teijin also aims to become an automotive solution provider by expanding its offerings beyond carbon fiber and glass fiber materials, for which the company is actively collaborating with other material manufacturers. The automotive composite products business of the Teijin Group is targeting annual sales of USD 2.0 billion (13,919 crore) by 2030.