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BMW drives down carbon fiber cost for electric cars with mammoth investment

BMW has announced a huge investment in the factory that makes the carbon fiber used in its new electric cars.

The joint venture between the pioneering automaker and SGL Carbon is set to spend $200 million expanding the plant at Moses Lake, Washington in order to triple production capacity and meet anticipated demand for the light but incredibly strong material in the coming years. The same plant saw a $100 million investment last year, meaning that $300 million has been pledged in the past year.

The new investment in the hydroelectric-powered facility will pave the way for new productions lines, taking capacity to 9,000 tons of carbon fiber a year. Carbon fiber is currently used extensively in the battery-electric i3 hatch and the plug-in hybrid i8 sportscar, although BMW has previously said that it intends to use the material for the bodywork of its more conventional cars.

With bodywork constructed entirely of carbon fiber, however, it’s the Project i cars that will drive demand for now, and BMW has ambitions to build an entire range of electric cars. Production of the i3 is on track to meet a target of 30,000 vehicles annually, with production currently at 100 vehicle a day. The i8 is already sold out until summer 2015.
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