Today BMW has broken ground on the first tangible steps of producing the upcoming Megacity line of vehicles. They expect the first carbon parts to start rolling off the assembly line in about a year ‘s time culminating with final chassis components in 2013 (in time for the launch of the first Megacity vehicle).

Official Release: SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers – a joint venture of the BMW Group and SGL Group – broke ground today on the new greenfield carbon fiber manufacturing facility in Moses Lake, Washington. More than 70 guests from Moses Lake and Grant County, including the Governor of the State of Washington Chris Gregoire and Moses Lake Mayor Jon Lane were in attendance to celebrate the groundbreaking event.

The facility in Moses Lake is a fundamental component of the joint venture’s strategy to commercialize manufacturing of lightweight carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP) for use in BMW Group’s future Megacity Vehicle. Carbon fiber technology is becoming increasingly important in the materials substitution process to lighter materials, which helps to improve fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions.

“I congratulate SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers for developing this cutting edge technology, and welcome them to Washington State,” Governor Chris Gregoire said. “This new carbon fiber manufacturing plant means new jobs in Moses Lake, and is another indicator that Washington State will continue to lead in the green economy. I look forward to working with SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers to ensure its success, and building a lasting relationship.”
During the initial phase of development, BMW Group and SGL Group will invest US $100 million. 80 new local jobs will be created with an additional 200 for site construction. The state-of-the-art facility will be constructed on 60 acres of land. There is the option to purchase an additional 60 acres to cater future growth. The plant will initially run two carbon fiber lines, each with annual capacity of 1,500 metric tons. The first carbon fiber line will be commissioned in the third quarter of 2011.

“This carbon fiber plant, the most cost efficient of its kind worldwide, is a benchmark in the industry. The investment in Moses Lake underlines our strong commitment to the State of Washington and to the United States,” said Andreas Wuellner, Managing Director SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers. “We are on the verge of a major renaissance and paradigm shift for the automotive industry.Now, a key piece of the Megacity Vehicle has a base in the USA!”

“The decision to build the carbon fiber plant in Moses Lake was based primarily on the availability of renewable clean hydropower and competitive energy costs in the state of Washington,” said Joerg Pohlman, Managing Director SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers. “Favorable infrastructure conditions, existing utilities, a skilled labor force and fast permitting processes were also important contributing decision factors.”

The carbon fibers manufactured in Moses Lake will be used exclusively for BMW Group’s demand, the first application being the upcoming Megacity Vehicle. In February of this year, BMW Group announced that this new vehicle for urban mobility – set to be launched in 2013 under a BMW sub-brand – will be assembled in Leipzig, Germany.