We will soon be seeing more carbonfiber in BMW vehicles as the carmaker sees broader applications for this extremely strong but lightweight material. BMW announced that carbonfiber will be used more extensively in the forthcoming Megacity electric vehicle.
But according to an interview with global sales head Ian Robertson at the Beijing motor show, BMW plans to be the first carmaker to "take carbon fiber to effectively high volume."
Robertson cited that with the many uses for carbonfiber outside of the electric car project, better economies of scale could be generated by the venture. In fact, BMW and its partner, SGL Group, intended to construct a $100 million carbon fiber manufacturing plant that would supply parts of the new electric car.
Robertson revealed that this plant, which would be built in Washington state, will manufacture the carbonfiber.
Meanwhile, a factory in Germany will mold it into paneling for the Megacity Vehicle, which arrives in 2013. The reduced weight due to the carbonfiber nearly makes up for the heaviness of the electric vehicle's batteries.
This material also boasts of outstanding crash safety features. Admittedly, carbonfiber is costly but Robertson said that the weight savings also mean that there are cost advantages.
In particular, carbonfiber is 30% lighter and as a result, not as many batteries are required for the same range. He added that this trade-off "actually works."