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SGL Group and BMW Group JV to Build New Carbon Fiber Plant; Output Exclusively for Upcoming Megacity Vehicle

SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers LLC, the joint venture between SGL Group and BMW Group (earlier post), will build a carbon fiber manufacturing plant in Moses Lake, WA. During the initial phase, US$100 million will be invested and 80 local jobs will be created.

The new facility is an important element of both companies’ strategy to commercialize viable manufacturing of ultra light weight 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 electric-powered Megacity Vehicle, a new vehicle for urban mobility set to be launched before 2015 under a BMW sub-brand.

The production of CFRP involves several work stages:

  • The raw material needed to manufacture carbon fibers, a polyacrylonitrile (PAN) based precursor, will be produced by a joint venture between SGL Group and the Japanese company Mitsubishi Rayon (MRC) in Otake, Japan.

  • In the next step, the facility in Moses Lake will convert the polyacrylic fibers into the actual carbon fibers.

  • These fibers are then processed into light weight 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 currently a range of BMW 1 Series and the BMW X1 are being built.

SGL Group and BMW Group have cooperated for many years in the area of carbon fiber composites and have combined their core competencies to industrialize the automotive use of carbon fibers in a joint venture founded in October 2009.

SGL Group contributes its know-how in high performance materials and its experience with carbon fiber based materials. As the only European carbon fiber and composite materials manufacturer, the company covers the entire value chain. BMW Group contributes its know-how in light weight automotive design and manufacturing and draws on its many years of experience with carbon fiber reinforced components for the BMW M brand and its race cars.

The joint venture operates through two companies, one based in the USA (SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers LLC) and the other in Germany (SGL Automotive Fibers GmbH & Co KG). SGL Group holds 51% of the shares and the BMW Group 49%.

The partners said that 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 ease of working with the local government were also contributing factors in selecting Moses Lake as the location.

This new plant in Moses Lake is a milestone in the use of carbon fibers for large scale production in the automotive industry. It will be the world’s most cost efficient carbon fiber plant using state-of-the-art technologies. This significant investment further underlines our commitment to the US, where we already operate carbon fiber and composite materials plants. The manufacture of carbon fibers is a core business for SGL Group and together with our partner BMW Group, we will ensure that carbon fibers play a revolutionary role in lightweight automotive construction.

—Robert Koehler, CEO SGL Group

We consider carbon fiber a cutting-edge material. Our joint efforts will make sustainable mobility possible in urban environments...Lightweight construction is a core aspect for sustainable mobility improving both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, two key elements of our EfficientDynamics strategy. With using CFRP components in our Megacity Vehicle, we take sustainable mobility a step further. By combining the know how of SGL Group and our expertise in manufacturing CFRP components, we will be able to produce carbon fiber enhanced components in large volumes at competitive costs for the first time. This is particularly relevant for electric-powered vehicles such as the Megacity Vehicle.

—Friedrich Eichiner, Member of the Board of Management, Finance, BMW AG

Comments

Davemart

I'd like to see basalt fiber as previewed for the EDAG made more extensive use of.
It has performance close to carbon fiber, but is much cheaper.
A lot of the winding technologies etc needed for carbon fiber can be used, but it's price is more suitable for mass manufacture.

HarveyD

Durable, light weight, rust proof carbon fibre re-enforced plastics body parts + electrical drive train could make an e-vehicle more efficient and last 20+ years.

Solar panels could eventually be incorporated into the roof, hood, trunk lid etc.

Davemart

Looking at the profile for lithium batteries loosing the ability to take a charge:
> 1000 cycles @ 100% DOD to 80% capacity
~9,700 cycles @ 50% DOD to 80% capacity
>7 years calendar life
http://www.electrovaya.com/pdf/TR/Lithium%20Ion%20Technology-Overview.pdf

And with the assumption that shelf life did not figure, I did a rather tongue in cheek calculation of how long a Nissan Leaf might run using the 2015 manganese cobalt battery pack of 50kwh and 200 miles range, if you did 12,000 miles a year and kept the car until the range decreased to 100miles.

It came out to 1,680,000 miles and 140 years!

Henry Gibson

Recently there was a bribery action against an automobile manufacturing company by the US government.

Why is it not bribery when different US states give companies special deals to locate manufacturing facilities in their states. Why is it not a violation of the interstate commerce clause of the US constitution because of negative duties or other reasons. ..HG..

Henry Gibson

Plug-In-Hybrids will reduce the cost of automobile operations for the public more than any exotic materials.

The only obstacles to electric vehicles for the masses are the producers of very expensive high technology motors and electric drives and batteries and the refusal to consider low cost small engine generators as adequate for range extenders.

Most uses of automobiles are limited range and well within the range of cheap lead acid batteries especially of the modern type. It is not beyond the income levels of most US car owners to own both a cheap long range vehicle and also a short range electric vehicle for most activities and a cheap engine range extender will take care of the inadvertant long trip in a hybrid electric vehicle. The machinery type of the London flywheel locomotives of the late 1930s can be used to give cheap electric cars super acceleration and regeneration without a single transistor or super magnets or computer. ..HG..

ToppaTom

It is not bribery when US states give special deals to locate manufacturing facilities in their states because it's legal and moral.
And it's legal and moral because the states give tax rate breaks to the companies (not the CEO) in return for jobs for their citizens.

What is NOT moral (not even close) is giving my money to unions or states to buy their votes.

ToppaTom

So
80 jobs to to burn the polyacrylonitrile and send it to Wackersdorf for processing.

Seems a bit strange - I wonder if their are grants involved.

HarveyD

Lighter, stronger, flexible, longer lasting, rust proof re-inforced plastics, when mass produced, will not cost more than steel or aluminium but will have many advantages.

Decent size e-vehicles made of lighter material should not weight more than one tone and even much less. Low weight, low wind and low road resistance will require smaller batteries and genset sets. That will be the way to cut BEVs/PHEVs cost by half.

Interesting potential for ICE vehicles replacement by 2020.

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