Mitsubishi Rayon to acquire Wethje; paving way for entry to CFRP auto parts

Japanese materials maker Mitsubishi Rayon (MRC) is to acquire 51% of Wethje Holding, a German company engaged in manufacturing of carbon fibre-reinforced plastics (CFRP) parts for the automotive sector. Austrian firm Cross Industries, the parent company of Wethje, will hold the 49% stake. No price was disclosed.

MRC says it is aiming to strengthen and expand its carbon fibre intermediate materials business for automobile applications in Europe. Wethje will become a consolidated subsidiary of MRC subject to fulfillment of closing conditions including approvals by appropriate authorities required in Germany and Austria.

The European automotive industry is moving towards a full-scale adoption of CFRP parts. As an example, BMW has launched the i3 electric vehicle, which uses CFRP parts for the complete vehicle structure. This development, together with stricter environmental policies, means a further strong push towards an increasing use of CFRP technology within the automotive industry.

Founded in 1979, Wethje is a CFRP auto parts manufacturer that supplies to luxury vehicles. Also, Wethje is one of the few manufacturers that can utilise both autoclave technology on a small scale production and RTM technology for mid-scale serial production.

MRC has developed PCM (Prepreg Compression Moulding) technology enabling the fast cycle times and quality composite parts manufacturing. It has also expanded its production bases through the acquisition of Challenge Co., Ltd. and invested into Action Composites International. Furthermore, it has obtained multi-axial non crimp fabric technology used as base material for the RTM method through the acquisition of TK Industries in order to strengthen its carbon fibre intermediate materials business.

MRC will utilise Wethje, which will join the group, as a development and production base for CFRP auto parts in Europe.

An industrial holding group, strategically and operatively focusing on the automotive sector, Cross employs 3,900 and posted sales of more than EUR896 million in 2013. MRC employs more than 9,000 worldwide. Its plastic products include acrylic resin and sheet.

(IMA)

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