BMW Announces $200 Million Investment in CFRP Production

The ever increasing demand for Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastic for its i sub-brand, forced BMW and its North American partner, SGL Group to increase production at the Moses Lake plant.
Carbon fibre production at Moses Lake 1 photo
Photo: BMW
Today, at the groundbreaking ceremony for the planned site expansion, BMW officials announced that an additional $200 million will be invested into the factory, tripling the initial investment.

The new wing is expected to be finalized by 2015 and will turn the Moses Lake location into the world’s largest carbon fibre plant in the world, creating 120 additional jobs.

Of course, this expansion signals the next step in BMW’s future, that includes using the extremely light and yet tensile material in other cars as well, apart from the i3 and i8.

At the moment, the SGL Group plant has two production lines that are capable of a total output of 3,000 tons of carbon fibre per year. While starting this year, two more lines will be start manufacturing, the capacity will reach 6,000 tons by the end of 2014.

With another two set to be built by the end of 2015, the total production of the plant by the time we enter 2016 will be around 9,000 tons a year. Sticking to the eco-friendly principles that started this whole endeavor, all the production will be powered by renewable energy, namely hydropower.

“With its highly automated carbon fiber production and stringent quality standards, Moses Lake is setting new standards in the industry. At present, the site is the world’s fastest growing carbon fiber producer. Together with the BMW Group, we are doing pioneering work to establish CFRP as a material in large-series automotive production. In a mix of materials, CFRP offers new opportunities in lightweight construction for an eco-friendly mobility,” explained Dr. Jürgen Köhler, CEO of SGL Group.

“CFRP is a key material for the automotive industry of the 21st century. In our endeavor to identify increasingly lightweight materials in order to reduce a vehicle’s weight and thus its fuel consumption and carbon emissions, this material plays a crucial role,” said Dr. Klaus Draeger, Board Member Purchasing and Supplier Network at BMW AG.

“As part of an intelligent mix of materials, we will apply carbon also beyond our BMW i and BMW M models in the future. Thanks to the pooling of the SGL Group’s expertise and our knowledge in large-series production of CFRP components, we will be able to produce the ultra-lightweight high-tech material also for other model series, at competitive costs and in large quantities,” he added.

The choice to further expand the capabilities over in Moses Lake instead of just opening up a new factory in some other location was influenced by one decisive factor: the available renewable energy.

Since BMW claims that their i cars are the most eco-friendly vehicles produced in the world, at the moment, the manufacturing process also has to adhere to this concept. Using the hydropower harnessed from the nearby lakes is a good solution to the great amount of energy needed to manufacture the valuable material, at least according to the Germans.

According to, at the moment, BMW is using 10 percent of the worldwide CFRP production for its i cars, manufacturing 100 i3s a day at its plant in Leipzig. With the new investment, that percentage is expected to grow up to almost 30 percent.
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