Daimler teams up with Toray to form carbon fibre unit

Japanese synthetic fibre maker Toray Industries and German auto giant Daimler AG said on Monday they would set up a joint venture to make lighter carbon-fibre-based auto parts.

Daimler teams up with Toray to form carbon fibre unit
Photo: DPA

The companies said they would establish the venture in Esslingen, Germany, in March to produce and market carbon fibre reinforced plastics (CFRP) for use in automobiles.

The €825,000 ($1.12 million) tie-up will be controlled 50.1 percent by Toray, 44.9 percent by Daimler and the remaining five percent by other parties.

The venture plans to start supplying the high-tech lightweight auto parts to Daimler in 2012 for use in its Mercedes-Benz brand.

Daimler is initially targeting annual production of more than 10,000 automobiles with CFRP and intends to expand that to 20,000-30,000, according to Vice President Rainer Genes.

CFRP is much lighter than sheet steel and aluminium, making vehicles potentially more energy efficient, while high costs have limited the use of carbon fibre materials in auto bodies.

“But Toray has sharply cut costs by successfully reducing the time for production procedures,” Toray executive vice president Shinichi Koizumi told a news conference.

“The joint venture with Daimler came as the emissions control in Europe will be tightened in 2012 so there has been a strong need on the side of Daimler to make lighter vehicles,” he said.

The two companies announced the tie-up plans in April last year.


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Germany opens ‘anti-competition’ probe into Amazon with tougher law

Germany's competition authority said Tuesday it had opened an inquiry into online retail giant Amazon over potential "anti-competitive practices", using a new law giving regulators more power to rein in big tech companies.

Germany opens 'anti-competition' probe into Amazon with tougher law
An Amazon warehouse in Brandenburg. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Patrick Pleul

Federal Cartel Office head Andreas Mundt said his office is examining whether Amazon has “an almost unchallengeable position of economic power” and whether it “operates across various markets”.

If so, it would be deemed of “paramount significance”, said Mundt, adding that the regulator could “take early action against and prohibit possible anti-competitive practices by Amazon”.

“This could apply to Amazon with its online marketplaces and many other, above all digital offers,” he added.

Under the amendment to Germany’s competition law passed in January, the watchdog said it now has more power to “intervene earlier and more effectively” against big tech companies, rather than simply punishing them for abuses of their dominant market position.

READ ALSO: ‘I want to know origin of my grapes’: Amazon loses fruit and veg ruling in German court

The German reform coincided with new EU draft legislation unveiled in December aimed at curbing the power of the internet behemoths that could shake up the way Silicon Valley can operate in the 27-nation bloc.

The push to tighten legislation comes as big tech companies are facing increasing scrutiny around the globe, including in the United States, where Google and Facebook are facing antitrust suits.

The Amazon probe is only the second time that Germany’s Federal Cartel Office has made use of its new powers, after first employing them to widen the scope of an investigation into Facebook over its integration of virtual reality headsets.

The watchdog already has two traditional abuse control proceedings open against Amazon.

One involves the company’s use of algorithms to influence the pricing of third-party sellers on Amazon Marketplace, while another is probing the extent to which Amazon and major producers such as Apple exclude third parties from
selling brand products.