The BMW i3 electric vehicle consists of two modules: an aluminium chassis combining battery, drive system, structural and basic crash functions; and a high-strength lightweight passenger cell made from CFRP.
The BMW i3 electric vehicle consists of two modules: an aluminium chassis combining battery, drive system, structural and basic crash functions; and a high-strength lightweight passenger cell made from CFRP.

“The new carbon fibre plant in Moses Lake is a fundamental component of the joint venture’s strategy to commercialise the manufacture of lightweight carbon fibre reinforced plastics for use in the automotive industry," says Andreas Wuellner, Managing Director, SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers.

"Carbon fibre technology is becoming increasingly important in the materials substitution process to lighter materials, which helps to improve fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions.”

It took nine months to contruct the Moses Lake plant,  following a year of design work. SGL believes the new carbon fibre plant will be the most cost efficient of its kind worldwide.

The plant covers 60 acres of land with the option to purchase additional land to cater to future growth. The plant will initially run two carbon fibre lines, each with an annual capacity of 1500 tonnes. The first carbon fibre line will be commissioned in the third quarter of 2011.

The BMW i3

The carbon fibre manufactured in Moses Lake will be used exclusively by BMW, initally for the BMW i3 (electric Megacity Vehicle) that will be launched in 2013.

The carbon fibre will be processed into carbon fibre fabrics at the second joint venture site in Wackersdorf, Germany. Carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) components will then be made from these fabrics at the BMW plant in Landshut, Germany. The BMW i3 will be constructed from these parts at the BMW plant in Leipzig, Germany.

The raw material needed to manufacture carbon fibres, a polyacrylonitrile (PAN) based precursor, will be produced by MRC SGL Precursor Co Ltd (MSP), a joint venture between SGL Group and the Japanese company Mitsubishi Rayon (MRC).