BMW and SGL Group Team to Make Carbon Fiber Car Parts

By Editors on November 2, 2009 12:48 PM

Seeking a more cost-efficient way to create lightweight components for its upcoming Megacity Vehicle line and other future "Project i" offerings, BMW and the SGL Group have formed a new joint venture that will specialize in producing carbon fibers and other carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) materials. The initial €90 million ($160 million) investment will cover the establishment of two companies. SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers LLC will be located in North America and produce raw carbon elements while SGL Automotive Fibers GmbH & Co KG will be established in Germany and weave them into cloth that can then be made into actual components by BMW. While the BMW/SGL ownership of the joint venture will be split 49/51 percent, each will have an equal say in management and both parties will have to agree on all major policy decisions.

BMW AG Management Board Chairman Norbert Reithofer described the joint venture a classic win-win situation. "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. With our concepts within Project i, we are breaking new ground when it comes to vehicle architecture, lightweight design and the use of materials." According to BMW, carbon fiber and CFRP will make up "a significant proportion of the materials" used in the construction of the Megacity Vehicle and allow it to become the first to incorporate CFRP "on a large scale in a series vehicle at a competitive cost."

Robert Koehler, CEO of the SGL Group, concurred, calling the joint venture "a milestone for the use of carbon fibers on an industrial scale in the automobile industry," and adding: "This confirms our strategy and shows that carbon fiber technology is becoming increasingly important in the materials substitution process to lighter material. This material will help to reduce CO2 emissions and save natural resources."