SGL-MRC joint venture begins precursor production for BMW i3

MRC SGL Precursor Co. Ltd., the joint venture of Mitsubishi Rayon and SGL Group, has successfully begun production of precursor for use in producing carbon fiber for the forthcoming BMW i3 all-electric car.

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MRC SGL Precursor Co. Ltd. (MSP) — the joint venture between Mitsubishi Rayon Co. Ltd. (MRC, Otake, Japan) and SGL Group (Wiesbaden, Germany) — has successfully and on schedule started its production of precursor, the raw material for carbon fibers. The joint venture plant in Otake was not affected by the earthquake in Japan.

Precursor from MRC SGL Precursor will be sent to SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers' facility in Moses Lake, Wash., USA. The Moses Lake facility will make 50k carbon fiber for use in the manufacture of the passenger cell in the forthcoming BMW i3 all-electric car. The Moses Lake plant will start operations later this year. The car is due on the market in 2013.

Dr. Jürgen Köhler, chairman of SGL Group’s Business Unit Carbon Fibers & Compos-
ite Materials, says, “The objective of our joint venture with Mitsubishi Rayon is to ensure the exclusive 50k precursor supply for SGL Group and consequently also for SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers, our joint venture with the BMW Group. Thanks to the close cooperation with our partner Mitsubishi Rayon, we were able to set up the new precursor production within the challenging time schedule as announced one year ago. We are now ready to provide precursor, which is a key success factor for the carbon fibers and fabrics used in the new BMW i3.”

Takahiro Ono, representative director of MSP, says, “We are proud to be a partner of SGL Group and the BMW Group in this milestone project for the automotive industry. We did everything possible to fulfill the high expectations of SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers and meet the tight schedule during these difficult times.”

The joint venture has successfully completed the commissioning phase and has as-
sumed commercial production of precursor. MSP is based at the MRC production site
in Otake/Japan and will deliver first commercial quantities of polyacrylonitrile (PAN)-based precursor to SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers in the second quarter of this year.