Back in February, we reported that SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers, a joint venture between BMW and the SGL Group, was planning to double the capacity of its carbon fiber plant in Moses Lake, Washington. Well, they’re not. They’re going to triple it.
The $300-million site expansion, to be completed by early 2015, will bring production to 9,000 tons annually, making the facility the world’s largest carbon fiber plant. The plant’s output is currently used exclusively for BMW i, but BMW has big plans to use carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP) in other model series in the future.
“CFRP is a key material for the automotive industry of the 21st century,” said BMW Board Member Dr Klaus Draeger.” 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.”
“With its highly automated carbon fiber production and stringent quality standards, Moses Lake is setting new standards in the industry,” explained SGL Group CEO Dr Jürgen Köhler. “At present, the site is the world’s fastest growing carbon fiber producer. Together with the BMW Group, we are doing pioneering work to establish CFRP as a material in large-series automotive production. In a mix of materials, CFRP offers new opportunities in lightweight construction for an eco-friendly mobility.”