Ahead of the debut of the new carbon-bodied BMW i3 and i8 models at the Frankfurt Auto Show this month, SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers – a joint venture between SGL and BMW Groups – today opened its new carbon fiber manufacturing plant in Moses Lake, WA.
The parent companies will invest approximately $100 million in the Moses Lake plant and create 80 new local jobs until 2013.
All electricity needed for production will come from clean and renewable local hydropower. Thanks to the emission-free drivetrain and a sustainable production chain, the lifecycle emission figures for the BMW i3 are at least 30% lower than an efficient combustion-engined car. And if the i3 is run on electricity from renewable sources, the figures improve by well over 50%.
Carbon fiber technology will feed the car industry’s quest for lightweight materials to reduce fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions. With the new SGL ACF plant in Moses Lake, BMW is providing itself with sustainable innovations for cleaner individual mobility in the future.
The first vehicle to use the Moses Lake carbon fibers will be the electric BMW i3. Previously known as the Megacity Vehicle, the i3 will be the first BMW with the innovative LifeDrive architecture, with the passenger compartment made from high-strength, lightweight carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP).
The decision to build the plant in Moses Lake was based primarily on the availability of clean, renewable hydropower and competitive energy costs in the state of Washington. The manufacture as well as processing of the carbon fibers and composites will be achieved with consideration for environmental resources, and processes have already been developed to recycle the materials.
The Moses Lake plant covers 60 acres of land with the option to purchase additional land for future growth. The plant will initially run two carbon fiber lines, each with an annual capacity of 1500 metric tons.
The fibers will be processed into lightweight carbon fiber fabrics at the second joint venture site in Wackersdorf, Germany. The CFRP parts and components will be produced from these fabrics at the BMW plant in Landshut, Germany. The new BMW i3 will be manufactured from these parts at the BMW Group plant in Leipzig, Germany.