US joint venture raises BMW’s carbon fiber production capacity image

BMW’s joint venture in the United States with SGL Group is expected to invest $200 million to allow for a plant capacity three times bigger for the range of carbon fiber products.

Aiming for a 2015 completion of the planned expansion, the two partners have also announced their manufacturing facility would become the largest carbon fiber producer in the world by that time, with an annual capacity of 9,000 tons.

BMW owns 49% of the joint venture, SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers, with the US plant worth more than $100 millions and having now 80 employees. Opened in 2010, the facility only uses power produced by the hydroelectric facility on Moses Lake, has two lines now that each churn out 3,000 tons a year, with two lines being built to double capacity to 6,000 tons, while later the fifth and sixth ones would reach the promised 9,000 tons, with employee capacity also expanded by 120 places.

Currently the plant makes all the carbon fiber reinforced plastics used in BMW’s i3 electric compact car and i8 plug-in hybrid sports car, with the German automaker set to use the material for further models as the plant expands and its production becomes cheaper. Chief among them should be the next generation 7-Series flagship sedan, which is rumored to make extensive use of the composite carbon material.

Via Automotive News Europe