Collaboration to supply carbon fiber fabrics to auto industry

The carbon fiber and fabric deal includes construction of one facility in North America and another in Germany; material will be used in BMW's forthcoming Megacity Vehicle.

Related Topics:

Related Suppliers

A joint venture between carbon fiber manufacturer SGL Group (Wiesbaden, Germany) and automaker BMW Group (Munich, Germany) will manufacture carbon fiber and fabric for the automotive industry. Announced Oct. 29, the agreement calls for construction of a new manufacturing plant for the fiber in North America and another in Germany to weave fabrics. In the first stage of development for the production sites, the pair will invest €90 million/$133.2 million (USD), with SGL Group holding 51 percent and BMW Group 49 percent of the shares. In the final stage of development, annual carbon fiber and fabric consumption is expected in the range of several thousand tons per annum. Construction of the production facilities will begin in 2010; material production is expected to start in the first half of the next decade. The overall investment will reach €230 million/$340.3 million (USD), subject to BMW Group approval in phases. Simultaneously, SGL Group and Mitsubishi Rayon Co. (MRC, Tokyo, Japan) will establish a joint venture for the production of polyacrylonitrile (PAN)-based precursor. This joint venture will secure a long-term supply of precursor.

Through the joint venture, BMW Group will secure access to key technologies and raw materials that will be used in its Megacity Vehicle, currently under development, which will mark BMW’s first use of carbon composites in large-scale automobile production. BMW expects the move to yield significant weight savings and, in turn, reduce CO2 emissions. Robert Koehler, CEO of SGL Group, says, ”This joint venture with the BMW Group is a milestone for the use of carbon fibers on an industrial scale in the automobile industry. For the first time, carbon fibers are taking on an important role in series vehicle manufacture.”

Norbert Reithofer, BMW AG Management Board chairman, said, “We are acquiring pioneering future technologies and raw materials that we need for our Megacity Vehicle on competitive terms. The SGL Group is moving into the automobile business with us as a strong partner.”

Fiber and fabrics will be manufactured with the environment in mind: The joint venture is developing recycling processes, and the North American production site will use hydroelectric power. BMW Group has guaranteed minimum purchasing volumes.