Faurecia — one of the world’s leading automotive equipment suppliers—today announced the creation of a 50/50 joint venture with Interval, a major French agricultural cooperative.
The deal leads to the formation of Automotive Performance Materials (APM), which aims to develop and produce bio-sourced raw materials to build on the advances already made by Faurecia in creating lighter, cleaner vehicles. The new company will draw on the assets of France’s industrial and agricultural sectors through innovative, performance products in developing industrial uses for natural fibers such as hemp. APM aims to supply the automotive industry through Faurecia and other actors in plastics engineering.
Automotive Performance Materials has been established to help automakers and equipment suppliers rise to the demand for weight savings and sustainability. Production in France is already underway and the business is set to expand to the North American market in 2016, with plans to export to Asia by 2018. Buoyed by a solid product listing and initial mass-production success with the door panels for the Peugeot 308, Faurecia aims to actively develop its offering among all client automakers.
“This agreement represents a key milestone in the global development of plastics containing bio-sourced materials. It allows us to pursue our ongoing campaign to achieve weight savings and develop environmentally sound products for automakers. We are also proud to enter into a partnership with French agricultural cooperative Interval, which seeks to promote a high-quality agricultural sector in tune with the environment,” said Raphaël Berthoud, General Manager of Automotive Performance Materials.
Through the joint venture, Interval will harvest and defibrate hemp to supply it to Automotive Performance Materials, which will transform and mix the product with a thermoplastic resin to create an injectable material known as NAFILean. Automotive equipment suppliers will then be able to use the raw materials to make automotive parts. NAFILean enables weight savings of up to 20% based on equivalent performance, with a 25% improvement in lifecycle.
Faurecia continues to invest in research into bio-sourced materials with the dual goal of reducing environmental impact and promoting independence from oil-based products. APM will soon begin industrial production of BioMat, a 100% bio-sourced plastic that uses fibers and natural resins obtained from biomass, developed in partnership with Mitsubishi Chemical.
Faurecia is one of the world’s leading automotive equipment suppliers, with four Business Groups: Automotive Seating, Emissions Control Technologies, Interior Systems and Automotive Exteriors. In 2013, the Group posted total sales of €18 billion. At December 31, 2013, Faurecia employed 97,500 people in 34 countries at 320 sites and 30 R&D centers. Faurecia is listed on the NYSE Euronext Paris stock exchange and trades in the U.S. over-the-counter (OTC) market.