SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers, which provides carbon-fiber material for BMW’s electric i series, plans to triple production capacities at its Moses Lake, Wash., carbon fiber plant. The expansion will make the Moses Lake facility the world’s largest carbon fiber plant, the company announced May 9.
The plant currently operates two production lines with a total annual output of 3,000 tons of carbon fiber. SGL plans to add four production lines — two this summer and two more by early 2015 — boosting the plant’s annual output to 9,000 tons.
In addition, an estimated 120 jobs will be added to the existing 80. The expansion represents a $200 million investment.
The Moses Lake plant is part of a joint venture between Wiesbaden, Germany-based SGL Group and BMW Group, based in Munich. The facility currently produces material exclusively for BMW, and BMW is looking to expand its use to other model series beyond the i model.
“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 Klaus Draeger, a member of the board for purchasing and supplier network at BMW, in a statement. “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 [carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer] 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.”