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Published on May 18th, 2014 | by Christopher DeMorro


BMW Carbon Fiber Production To Triple

May 18th, 2014 by  

Originally published on Gas2.


Though production of the BMW i3 and i8 have only just begun, the automaker is investing $200 million to triple production of carbon fiber. This could be the move that helps take carbon fiber into the mainstream.

With 10,000 pre-orders for the BMW i3 and the BMW i8 reportedly already sold out for its first production run, the Germans seem to have hit on their hands already. Carbon fiber has played a big role in keeping the weight of both vehicles down, and BMW formed a joint venture with SGL to secure carbon fiber supplies going forward. Though BMW already invested $100 million to ensure carbon fiber production could keep up with initial demand, another $200 million is on tap to triple production, from 3,000 tons per year to 9,000.

Looks like BMW has big plans for carbon fiber and carbon fiber reinforced plastic, a lightweight composite that combines the best features of both materials. This investment will make SGL’s carbon fiber factory in Moses Lake, Washington the world’s largest carbon fiber plant, and it will be at the beck and call of BMW.

It isn’t just BMW i models that will get the extra fiber. BMW has already showcased a bamboo and carbon fiber charging port, and M brand of performance cars will use more and more of the lightweight material to boost performance. Carbon fiber shows once again how efficiency and performance go hand-in-hand.

Source: BMW 
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About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.

  • JamesWimberley

    Carbon fibre reinforced materials are already in the mainstream (eg in aviation), just not yet in cars.

  • spec9

    The Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) is the best thing to come out of BMW’s “i” program. The i8 is just niche hyper expensive halo car and the i3 is a decent first effort at a first EV (but looks goofy, needs an option for a bigger battery, etc.). But the CFRP is thing they developed. The REx range-extender is interesting but a bit expensive and has too small of a gas tank (I can deal with the low power of it).

  • Banned by Bob

    I hope that the body parts are segmented and not too continuous. Anyone who has wrecked a carbon fibre bike knows that any damage to a part renders the entire part useless. Carbon fibre is an awesome material, but repairing a carbon fibre auto after a crash is going to be really expensive. Hopefully this expansion of capacity will help change that.

    • Steve Grinwis

      With the current level of segmentation, and impact large enough to damage a carbon fiber frame would probably also be sufficient to write the car off anyways. I don’t think anything really changes. The body panels look like the same size as any other car. I actually think Carbon Fiber works in your favor to keeping parts small. They don’t want small glitches in big parts meaning the entire part can’t be used.

      And speaking from experience, body shops don’t want to straighten metal panels either. I had a guy back into my car with an F-150. Put a relatively minor dent in the hood. It was cheaper, and easier to get a new hood and repaint then it was to straighten the existing one. New hood was $200, and he estimated 3 hours to straighten the existing hood and then prep it for repaint at $100 / hr body shop prices.

  • Jan Veselý

    Each 100 kg of steel not used means 60 kg of coal not burned in the steelworks, energy saved in roll mills, transport, high pressure steel stamping, welding, …
    I wonder if someone in the BMW will figure out that the paint can be mixed directly into the plastic. That would mean huge energy and money savings when the paint shop won’t be needed.

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