BMW’s Electric Cars To Be Produced By Hydropower


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 A German joint venture will use hydropower

As an energy source for its new facility in Moses Lake,

 Washington that will manufacture carbon fiber parts for BMW Group’s new electric vehicle.


SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers L.L.C., a joint venture between BMW and SGL Group, aims to commercialize feasible manufacturing of ultra-lightweight carbon fiber reinforced plastics to be used in future vehicles concepts.


In line with BMW and SGL’s sustainable business strategy, the venture said it decided to locate the manufacturing facility in Washington because of the availability of hydropower and competitive energy costs in the state.


“Our focus includes the whole value chain. Therefore, the energy demand for producing carbon fiber will come from environmentally friendly hydropower,” explained Friedrich Eichiner, member of the board of management of finance at BMW.


The United States sources most of its renewable-generated electricity from hydropower, according to the United States Information Administration. Hydropower represented 67 percent of the country’s electricity generation from renewable energy sources and accounted for 6 percent of the overall electricity generation in 2008.


Over half of the country’s hydropower capacity is concentrated in three states: Washington, California and Oregon. Washington accounts for 31 percent of the total generating capacity and is home to the largest hydroelectric facility in the United States – the Grand Coulee Dam.


Carbon fibers for cars


SGL Automotive will invest $100 million for the initial production phase of the carbon fiber manufacturing facility, which is expected to create at least 80 local jobs.


A joint venture between SGL Group and Japan’s Mitsubishi Rayon Company will produce a polyacrylonitrile-based precursor, the raw material needed to manufacture the carbon fibers. The Moses Lake plant will then convert the polyacrylic fibers into actual carbon fibers, which will be processed into lightweight carbon fiber fabrics at a second joint venture site in Wackersdorf, Germany.


Cars made out of lightweight carbon fibers and other composite materials reportedly show improved fuel consumption and lower carbon dioxide emissions. In addition, using hydropower to meet the plant’s energy demand ensures the sustainability of the production of such components.


“It will be the world’s most cost efficient carbon fiber plant using state-of-the-art technologies, “said Mr. Eichiner.


“The manufacture of carbon fibers is a core business for SGL Group and together with our partner BMW Group, we will ensure that carbon fibers play a revolutionary role in lightweight automotive construction,” he added.


The carbon fibers manufacturer at the Moses Lake facility will be used exclusively for BMW’s upcoming Megacity vehicle, which will be assembled at the company’s plant in Leipzig Germany. The vehicle is expected to hit the roads before 2015, although details about its performance and specifications are still under wraps.


SGL holds a 51 percent ownership stake in the joint venture, which operates through SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers L.L.C. in the United States and SGL Automotive Fibers G.m.b.H. and Company Kommanditgesellschaft. BMW holds the remaining 49 percent of shares.


BMW is one of the world’s most successful automobile manufacturers. The company sold approximately 1.29 million cars and more than 87,000 motorcycles worldwide last year.



is the only European carbon fiber and composite materials manufacturer. Products from the company are used predominantly in the steel, aluminum, automotive, chemical and glass or ceramics industries. However, it also serves manufacturers in the semiconductor, battery, solar and wind energy, environmental protection, aerospace and defense industries.