BMW & SGL to Triple Carbon Fibre Production

Due to the heavy increase in demand for carbon fibre, SGL Automotive Carbon Fibres have announced plans to triple capacity at the Moses Lake facility in Washington.

The site expansion will be funded by an extra 200 million dollar investment, on top of the previously invested 100 million. The project is expected to be completed by early 2015 and will make the Moses Lake site the largest carbon fibre manufacturing plant in the world.

With the anticipated creation of 120 new jobs, the headcount at the joint venture in Moses Lake is going to rise from currently 80 to about 200 people. Due to the automated production processes, the expansion of the site in Moses Lake will make it possible for the BMW Group to apply carbon fibre material also in other model series in the future, at competitive costs and in large quantities.

At the moment, the Moses Lake plant operates two production lines, exclusively for BMW i, with an annual output of approx. 3,000 tons of carbon fibre. Already this summer, SGL Automotive Carbon Fibres will commission a third and fourth production line in Moses Lake, which are currently being built, thus doubling the plant’s capacity to 6,000 tons per year. The recent groundbreaking ceremony for a fifth and sixth production line has been the first step toward tripling capacities to 9,000 tons annually in the medium term. The energy needed for the carbon fibre production is fully generated from hydropower.

Dr. Jürgen Köhler, CEO of SGL Group explains;

With its highly automated carbon fibre 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 fibre 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.

The carbon fibre plant in Moses Lake is a key element in the strategy pursued by the two companies, which anticipates the industrialised large-series production of carbon fibre reinforced plastics (CFRP) for the application in future vehicle concepts. Up to now, carbon fibre produced in Moses Lake is exclusively used for the BMW i models. Since the start of the year, the Leipzig plant has built over 5,000 BMW i3 vehicles. At present, the production output stands at 100 units a day. Furthermore, the BMW Group has been applying the ultra-lightweight high-tech material also in its BMW M models for the past ten years.