BMW opens Carbon Fiber plant in Moses Lake WA with 80 jobs

The BMW Group's $100 million joint venture with SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers announced the official opening of SLG’s its new state-of-the-art carbon fiber manufacturing plant in Moses Lake WA, where the manufacture of ultra light-weight carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP) for new BMW i vehicles will take place.

The Moses Lake plant will create 80 new local jobs running at least until 2013. Preparation for large-scale production of BMW i vehicles in 2013 requires starting the fabrication of CFRPs now. All the power needed for this effort will come Washington’s readily available, non-polluting and naturally sustainable hydraulic generators.

“About a month ago we presented the first concept cars being launched under our new sub-brand, BMW I, stated Dr. Norbert Reithofer, CEO and Chairman of the Board of BMW Auto Group. “The BMW i3 and the BMW i8 are cars like no other. With their purpose built design they will set new standards for clean individual mobility of the future. Carbon fibers are a key construction material for the automotive industry of the 21st century and will change the way we develop and build cars.”

“Thanks to the emission-free drivetrain and a value added chain designed to be sustainable all along the line,” reads the company statement, “life cycle emission figures for the BMW i3 are at least a third lower than for a highly efficient combustion-engine car.” We’re not quite sure what they mean by a “value added chain” but we think it’s that the car if powered by electricity from renewable sources, over a lifetime of use its pollution levels will be reduced by 50%.

CFRPs will revolutionize the car industry every bit as much as switching to electrical drive systems, as the quest for lighter-weight and thus more fuel-efficient vehicles continues. With the new SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers plant in Moses Lake, BMW Group and SGL Group are insuring sustainable innovations to provide cleaner personal mobility in the very near future.

The carbon fiber materials produced at the plant will initially be used in the BMW i3, an all-electric car for drivers in urban areas throughout the world. The all-electric BMW i3 is meant to embody intelligent urban transportation and commuting. It will be the first BMW with the innovative LifeDrive architecture.
The Life module part of the design is the passenger compartment made entirely from high-strength, extremely lightweight CFRP. The materials use through much of the car ensures it is remarkably light improving the BMW i3’s range and performance.

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Taking a leading role in sustainable business operations, BMW and SGL’s entire supply chain - ecological, social and economic - has been conscientiously aligned. The manufacture and processing of the carbon fibers and composites will take careful consideration of environmental resources and resulting waste carbon fibers and composite materials will be processed for recycling.

“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 ground-breaking role in lightweight automotive construction, added Robert Koehler, CEO, SGL Group. This new greenfield facility in Moses Lake is a milestone in the use of carbon fibers for large-scale production in the automotive industry. This significant investment further underlines our commitment to the U.S., where we already operate carbon fiber and composite part facilities.”

The Moses Lake plant covers 60 acres of land with an option for additional land if needed. Initially, the plant will run two carbon fiber lines, each with a capacity of 1,500 metric tons annually. After breaking ground in July 2010, SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers completed the new Moses Lake Facility in April 2011 after only ten months of construction.

“What a great day for Moses Lake and the entire state of Washington. We worked incredibly hard to bring this partnership to Washington State, and I couldn’t be happier to join in the grand-opening celebration,” said Christine Gregoire, Governor, of Washington. “Not only does this partnership create much-needed, good-paying jobs, it opens up new possibilities and solidifies our state’s position as the leading innovator in the green-energy market place. I am confident carbon fiber is the way of the future, and with SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers in Washington State, we will be the premier location for this in-demand product.”

The Moses Lake CFRPs will be processed into lightweight carbon fiber fabrics at the second site in the joint venture located in Wackersdorf, Germany. The 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.

Comments

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