BMW AG and SGL Group will build a $100 million carbon-fiber manufacturing plant in the state of Washington to supply parts for a new BMW electric vehicle.
The factory will begin production in the third-quarter of 2011 and make ultralightweight carbon-fiber-reinforced plastics exclusively for BMW's first vehicle under a new sub-brand.
BMW calls the project a megacity vehicle. The automaker did not disclose the sub-brand's name or details about the vehicle other than to say it will be electric-powered and arrive before 2015.
The Moses Lake, Wash., plant will employ 80 and be built by the joint venture, SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers LLC.
Carbon fiber-reinforced plastics are currently used in limited parts on low-volume cars, but BMW will use them throughout the structure and in exterior and interior body panels, said a BMW of North America spokesman.
Robert Koehler, CEO of Wiesbaden, Germany-based SGL Group, said in a statement that the new factory will be the world's most cost-efficient carbon-fiber plant using state-of-the-art technologies.
SGL already has composite materials factories in the United States and Canada, making parts such as wind energy and aerospace components.
Friedrich Eichiner, a member of the BMW AG board of management for finance, said that the two companies will be able to produce carbon-fiber-enhanced components in large volumes at competitive costs for the first time.
This is particularly relevant for electric-powered vehicles such as the megacity vehicle.
BMW has used its own proprietary carbon-fiber production method for concept cars and limited production parts since 2000.
The new car will bring together global production sources beyond the new Washington site, with SGL and its Japanese joint venture partner Mitsubishi Rayon creating part of the carbon-fiber formula in Otake, Japan, as well as using BMW production in Landshut, Germany, and Wackersdorf, Germany.
BMW will make the electric car at the same Leipzig, Germany, assembly plant that makes the 1 series passenger car and X1 crossover.
Plastics News Detroit-based staff reporter Rhoda Miel contributed to this story.
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