BMW and its production partner SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers yesterday opened a new factory in Washington State set to produce light-weight bodywork for the new BMW electric and hybrid i-series cars.
The production plant in Moses Lake was drawn to the area by available hydropower.
The $100m facility is creating 80 new local jobs as preparations are made for large-scale production of the i-series from 2013. Components from the Washington plant will be assembled into full vehicles in Germany.
BMW said its all-electric i3 vehicle would have a life cycle emissions at least a third lower than for a highly-efficient combustion-engine car.
If the i3 runs on electricity from renewable sources, the figures improve by well over 50%, the company added.
The i3 vehicle is designed for urban use and commuting, previously known as the Megacity Vehicle. The series is also set to include a plug-in electric hybrid, the i8.
Dr. Norbert Reithofer, BMW’s CEO and Chairman, said yesterday: “About a month ago we presented the first concept cars being launched under our new sub-brand, BMW i. “The BMW i3 and the BMW i8 are cars like no other. With their purpose built design they will set new standards for clean individual mobility of the future. Carbon fibers are a key construction material for the automotive industry of the 21st century and will change the way we develop and build cars,” added the BMW CEO. The Moses Lake plant was built in just 10 months, to include two carbon fiber lines on its 60-acre site, which has room on it for future growth.
Lightweight carbon fiber is set to lower fuel consumption in vehicles.
Robert Koehler, CEO of SGL Group, said: “This new greenfield facility in Moses Lake is a milestone in the use of carbon fibers for large scale production in the automotive industry.” Christine Gregoire, Governor of the State of Washington, said: “Not only does this partnership create much-needed, good-paying jobs, it opens up new possibilities and solidifies our state’s position as the leading innovator in the green-energy market place. I am confident carbon fiber is the way of the future, and with SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers in Washington State, we will be the premier location for this in-demand product.”