BMW and partner to increase carbon-fiber output

  • 09-May-2014 02:43 EDT

White polyacrylnitril precursor for carbon-fiber production at Moses Lake.

BMW is doubling down on its commitment to carbon fiber with major capacity increases at the plant that makes the material for its new i brand of lightweight electrified vehicles. The plant (located in Moses Lake, WA, and owned by a joint venture between BMW and SGL Group called SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers) currently operates two production lines, exclusively for BMW i, with annual output of about 3000 ton (2721 t). A previously announced expansion is now in progress to double capacity, and with today's announcement at a groundbreaking ceremony for the next expansion, capacity will grow to 9000 ton (8165 t). Each of the expansions involves two additional production lines. When completed in 2015, the plant will be the world's largest producer of carbon fiber, according to BMW. Total investment for the original plant and the two expansions is $300 million. Energy for the plant's operations comes via hydropower from a nearby dam/power station. Currently used only for its i models and for some body panels on its M models, BMW says it will expand application of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic derived from the carbon fibers beyond those model types.

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