SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers, a joint venture between BMW Group and SGL Group, will invest $200 million to triple the capacity of its carbon fiber products site near Moses Lake, Washington. The investment should make the site the largest producer of carbon fiber in the world, having the capacity to produce 9,000 tons annually by 2015.
The site builds carbon fiber reinforced plastics for the BMW i3 electric compact car and the i8 plug-in hybrid sports car. BMW started selling the i3 in the United States this month and will commence sales of the i8 in August.
The carbon fiber-reinforced plastics have been used to build 5,000 i3 cars at BMW’s Leipzig plant in Germany, which produces 100 vehicles daily. BMW said the expansion will allow it to use the carbon fiber for other models “at competitive costs and in large quantities.”
One of those models could be the redesigned 7-series flagship sedan due in two years. SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers is 49 percent owned by BMW. BMW and SGL Group have already invested $100 million on the 80-worker Washington plant.
The latest expansion will result to the creation of 120 jobs. The site currently operates two production lines with an annual output of 3,000 tons of carbon fiber and two more are being built to double production to 6,000 tons. The fifth and sixth lines will hike production to 9,000 tons.
Dr. Klaus Draeger, Board Member Purchasing and Supplier Network at BMW AG: “CFRP is a key material for the automotive industry of the 21st century. In our endeavor to identify increasingly lightweight materials in order to reduce a vehicle’s weight and thus its fuel consumption and carbon emissions, this material plays a crucial role. As part of an intelligent mix of materials, we will apply carbon also beyond our BMW i and BMW M models in the future. Thanks to the pooling of the SGL Group’s expertise and our knowledge in large-series production of CFRP components, we will be able to produce the ultra-lightweight high-tech material also for other model series, at competitive costs and in large quantities.”