Toray places B17bn bet on carbon fibre

Japan's Toray Industries, the integrated chemicals group, is spending 17 billion baht in Thailand to double sales revenue here by 2020.

Mr Nikkaku (left) and Mr Yasuo show the Teewave, a next-generation electric car that uses Toray’s advanced materials and technology, as part of Toray Thailand’s 50th anniversary party at Plaza Athe´ne´e Bangkok yesterday. PAWAT LAOPAISARNTAKSIN

President Akihiro Nikkaku said the investment is aimed at increasing the sales contribution of the group's carbon fibre, water treatment and pharmaceutical businesses to 20%, while holding fibres and plastics at 55% and 20% respectively.

Currently, 70% of sales are in fibres and the rest in plastics.

Sales in Thailand totalled 18 billion baht last year and are expected to double to 36 billion by 2020, with employment reaching 5,400. Toray has 6,976 employees worldwide.

Founded in 1926, the company entered the Thai market in 1963 with the establishment of Thai Toray Textile Mills Plc.

For the past six years, Toray invested an average of 1.3 billion baht a year in Thailand, the same amount it spent in Indonesia and Malaysia, said Mr Nikkaku.

He said the weakening of the yen against the US dollar has yet to affect business in Thailand, as Toray has been investing abroad for a long time and has measures in place to cope with currency fluctuation.

Yamashita Yasuo, the managing director of Toray Industries (Thailand), said the company is investing 960 million baht this year to increase production capacity for airbags made from fibre.

Toray, also the largest producer of carbon fibre worldwide, will set up a new factory site for carbon fibre in Chon Buri's Si Racha district next month.

Carbon fibre is used mostly in cars, aircraft and medical devices.

"In the future, cars will be lighter in weight, and there will be a switch from steel to compound or engineered plastic," said Mr Yasuo.

Toray will double production capacity for compound plastic to 3,200 tonnes a year, in line with continued growth in Thai car production.

The company did not provide a time frame for the increase.

The Toray group has 231 companies worldwide, of which 100 are located in Japan and six in Thailand. It expects global revenue this year to reach 576 billion baht, up from 508 billion last year.

Revenue for 2015 and 2020 is forecast at 640 billion and 960 billion, respectively.

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Writer: Nanchanok Wongsamuth
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