Mitsubishi Rayon is set to purchase Wethje, a German manufacturer of carbon fibre auto parts, allowing the company to tap into the growing demand for lightweight products.
The Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings unit will take a 51% stake for around $29 million including the German company’s debt. It will remove the company executives but keep Wethje’s name and leadership.
Wethje supplies carbon fibre parts to luxury car manufacturers, including Porsche and BMW, with annual sales reaching roughly $50 million. It will aim to double the figure by utilising the Mitsubishi Rayon, the world’s fourth-largest producer of carbon fibre.
This purchase will focus the company’s attention on Europe and the race for lighter vehicles in the face of tougher fuel economy regulations coming by 2020. The global market for automotive carbon fibre is expected to grow from 4,000 tons per year now to about 20,000 tons by 2020, with Europe accounting for roughly 70% of the total.