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.