BMW Group and SGL Group jointly announced a joint venture to be known as, SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers LLC, which will build a state-of-the-art carbon fiber manufacturing plant in Moses Lake, WA.
During the initial phase, $100 million will be invested and 80 local jobs will be created. The new facility is an important element of both companies' strategy to manufacture ultra-lightweight carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP) for use in future vehicle concepts.
The fibers manufactured at Moses Lake will be used exclusively for BMW Group's upcoming Megacity Vehicle. In February of this year, BMW announced the Megacity Vehicle for urban mobility - set to be launched before 2015 under a BMW sub-brand - will be assembled in Leipzig, Germany. And now, a key piece of the Megacity Vehicle will be produced in the USA.
In line with BMW and SGL's roles in sustainable business operations, the decision to build the carbon fiber plant in Moses Lake was based primarily on the availability of renewable clean hydropower and competitive energy costs in the state of Washington. Favorable infrastructure conditions, existing utilities, a skilled labor force and an accommodating local government were also contributing factors.
Friedrich Eichiner, Member of the Board of Management, Finance, BMW AG said: "Lightweight construction is a core aspect for sustainable mobility improving both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions - two key elements of our EfficientDynamics strategy. By using CFRP components in our Megacity Vehicle, we take sustainable mobility a step further. And by combining the SGL Group's knowledge with our manufacturing expertise in CFRP components, we will be able to produce carbon fiber components in large volumes at competitive costs. This is particularly relevant for electric-powered vehicles such as the Megacity Vehicle".
The production of CFRP involves several work stages. The raw material will be produced by a joint venture between SGL and Japanese Mitsubishi Rayon (MRC) in Otake, Japan. In the next step, the Moses Lake facility will convert the polyacrylic fibers into the carbon fibers. These fibers are then processed into lightweight carbon fiber fabrics at a second joint-venture site in Wackersdorf, Germany.
The CFRP parts and components will then be made from these fabrics at the BMW Group Plant Landshut, Germany. The assembly of the Megacity Vehicle will take place at the BMW Group plant in Leipzig, Germany where the BMW 1 Series and X1 are being built.
The joint venture operates through two companies, SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers LLC in the USA and SGL Automotive Fibers GmbH & Co KG in Germany. SGL Group holds 51% of the shares and BMW Group 49%.
Due to the paradigm shift in the use of materials as a result of the worldwide shortage of energy and raw materials, there is a growing demand for SGL Group's high-performance materials and products from an increasing number of industries. Carbon and graphite products are used whenever other materials such as steel, aluminum, copper, plastics, wood are inappropriate. Products from SGL Group are used predominantly in the steel, aluminum, automotive, chemical and glass/ceramics industries. However, manufacturers in the semiconductor, battery, solar/wind energy, environmental protection, aerospace and defense industries as well as in the nuclear energy industry also figure among the Company's customers.?
With 43 production sites in Europe (23), North America (11) and Asia (8), as well as a service network covering more than 100 countries, SGL Group has a global presence. In 2009, the Company's workforce of around 6000 generated sales of ?1.2 billion. The Company's head office is located in Wiesbaden/Germany. The North American headquarters are located in Charlotte/North Carolina.