It’s a bit surprising that BMW isn’t all that worried about Volkswagen’s move to take a stake in SGL Group, the carbon fiber supplier that is BMW's joint venture partner.
In a Reuters’ interview, BMW Chief Financial Officer Friedrich Eichiner said that the company is “open” and would welcome all automakers that would help increase volume and economies of scale.
Eichiner talked to Reuters while he attended an event last Friday to launch the electric inner city vehicle i3. Last February, Volkswagen acquired an 8% stake in SGL in order to secure its stock of carbon fibers, a key technology that makes cars more fuel-efficient and lightweight.
Since then, the stake has been raised to nearly 10%. In response to this move, BMW investor Susanne Klatten (the richest woman in Germany and heiress to the fortune of German industrialist Herbert Quandt) increased her stake in SGL to nearly 30%. This is described as a blocking stake that’s sufficient to put a stop to its outside companies influencing corporate strategy.
Klatten previously held 22%. She now holds 12.6% in BMW, while the Quandt family holds a combined 46.7% of BMW. In October 2009, SGL entered a cooperation agreement with BMW on lightweight carbon parts for its i3 electric vehicle, which is also recognized as the MegaCity project.
This is just a few months after Klatten came out as a major shareholder in SGL. So far, SGL has said that it isn’t ruling out collaboration deals with other carmakers.
To decrease carbon-dioxide emissions, the car industry is using more carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP), which are 30% lighter than aluminum and 50% lighter than steel.