MOSES LAKE — German automaker BMW has selected SGL Carbon to produce carbon fiber and components for the company’s next generation of electric cars.
According to an SGL news release, the company will also produce a number of glass fiber fabrics and components for BMW’s iNext electric car, which is expected to begin production in 2021.
“The carbon fibers will be manufactured at the Moses Lake plant,” explained Philipp Stieffenhofer, a spokesperson with SGL Carbon in Wiesbaden, Germany. “From there, they will be shipped to our Wackersdorf site in Germany where the fabrics will be produced based on the fibers from Moses Lake.”
“Afterwards the fabrics are delivered to BMW for further processing,” Stieffenhofer said.
“With this project, SGL Carbon is strengthening its position as a supplier of fibers, materials and components for the automotive industry. As far as we know, this will be the second largest electric vehicle series project in the industry after the BMW i3, in terms of the total volume of carbon fibers it is expected to use,” said Andreas Wullner, head of composites, fibers and materials at SGL Carbon.
The i3 is BMW’s current entry into the electric car market. With a base range of 153 miles, the car’s starting price in the United States is $44,450, according to BMW’s web site.
According to BMW’s web site, the company has tremendous ambitions for the iNext, including an autonomous driving mode and rear seat fabric with fiber optics woven in, allowing for limited control over elements of the car — such as the sound system — merely by tracing your finger on the fabric.
Stieffenhofer said the company doesn’t anticipate needing to hire significant numbers of new employees here in Moses Lake to meet BMW’s needs.
“As of today, we assume that we will be able to produce the anticipated volumes for the BMW iNEXT with the existing resources,” Stieffenhofer wrote in an email to the Columbia Basin Herald.
SGL’s Moses Lake facility began as a joint venture between SGL Carbon and BMW. However, SGL Carbon bought out BMW’s 49 percent stake in the facility last year.
Charles H. Featherstone can be reached via email at email@example.com.