Carbon fibre producer SGL Group and car maker BMW Group have announced that their joint venture, SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers LLC, which will build a carbon fibre manufacturing plant in Moses Lake, Washington, USA.
The new facility is part of the companies’ strategy to commercialise viable manufacturing of lightweight carbon fibre reinforced plastics (CFRP) for use in cars. The fibres manufactured at Moses Lake will be used exclusively for BMW’s upcoming Megacity Vehicle. This electric car designed for urban travel is set to be launched before 2015 under a BMW sub-brand.
The raw material needed to manufacture the carbon fibres, a polyacrylonitrile (PAN) based precursor, will be produced by a joint venture between SGL Group and the Japanese company Mitsubishi Rayon (MRC) in Otake, Japan. The facility in Moses Lake will convert the polyacrylic fibres into carbon fibres. These fibres will then be processed into carbon fibre fabrics at a second joint venture site in Wackersdorf, Germany. The CFRP parts and components will then be made from these fabrics at the BMW Group Plant Landshut, Germany.
SGL and BMW have cooperated for many years in the area of carbon fibre composites and combined their core competencies to industrialise the use of carbon fibres in automotive applications in a joint venture founded in October 2009. The joint venture operates through two companies, one based in the USA (SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers LLC) and the other in Germany (SGL Automotive Fibers GmbH & Co KG). SGL holds 51% of the shares and BMW 49%.