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BMW Group / SGL Group JV opens new Moses Lake carbon fiber plant

SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers (SGL ACF)—a joint venture of SGL Group and the BMW Group (earlier post)—officially opened its new carbon fiber manufacturing plant in Moses Lake, WA. The new facility is strategic for the manufacture of ultra light-weight carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP) for use in the new BMW i vehicles (earlier post).

The two parent companies will invest approximately $100 million in their Moses Lake plant. In order to prepare the large-scale production start of BMW i vehicles in 2013, carbon fiber manufacturing needs to begin now, BMW says. All electricity needed for the production of carbon fibers will come from local hydropower.

With the emission-free drivetrain and a value-added chain designed to be sustainable all along the line, lifecycle emission figures for the BMW i3 are at least a third lower than for a highly efficient combustion-engine car. If the BMW i3 is run on electricity from renewable sources, the figures improve by well over 50%, BMW says.

The first vehicle to use the carbon fibers manufactured in Moses Lake will be the BMW i3, an all-electric car designed to meet the mobility needs of drivers in highly populated urban areas throughout the world. Previously known as the Megacity Vehicle, the BMW i3 will be the first BMW with the innovative LifeDrive architecture (earlier post). The Life module part of the design is the passenger compartment made from high-strength, extremely lightweight carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP). The use of this high-tech material across large sections of the car ensures the Life module is remarkably light helping to improve the BMW i3’s range and performance.

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 1,500 metric tons. After a year of design work with ground-breaking in July 2010, SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers completed the new Moses Lake Facility in April 2011 after only ten months of construction.

The Moses Lake carbon fibers will be processed into lightweight carbon fiber fabrics at the second joint venture site in Wackersdorf, Germany. The carbon fiber reinforced plastic (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.



Moses Lake is a very long way from Wakersdorf. Transport will cost a fortune unless the Moses Lake plants are for the future eventual or potential US market. Lighter parts, panels, wheels, batteries and other components are essential for extended range future BEVs. A one tonne BEV should be a lot easier to move around at highway speed than a three tonne unit.


Moses lake is a lot further from the US.


TT....Isn't Moses Lake in Wash. USA?

Michael Cain

"Moses Lake is a very long way from Wakersdorf. Transport will cost a fortune unless the Moses Lake plants are for the future eventual or potential US market."

The press release says that the availability of clean, cheap, plentiful hydro power was an important factor. During one stretch earlier this year, the Bonneville Power Administration was giving electricity away to industrial customers who could increase their sustained consumption. In contrast, Germany is starting to shut down its nuclear fleet, with no firm plans for replacing the supply, and many are anticipating significantly higher prices and/or rationing in some form.

Shipping costs may be relatively small compared to the savings on the cost of electricity used in production.


MC...thank you for the extra info. Those high value carbon fibers could be air lifted to Germany (at a price) and then incorporated info re-enforced materials required to build lighter cars. Eventually, more sources and customers will materialize.


Oh, THAT Moses Lake.

Well, if lightweight carbon fiber fabrics are anything, they're lightweight.


Moses Lake Washington is in central Washington. No-where's ville. But, it has a huge runway (2nd or third longest in the US and virtually unused, was alternate Shuttle runway, ex military, ex JAL training strip) so direct transport via freighter aircraft to anywhere will be a no-brainer. No truck or hiway transport necessary.

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