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BMW expands its carbon fiber production

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BMW will invest $200 million to increase its carbon fiber production, to supply their new line of electric vehicles and their restyled 7-series. The expansion of their production plant will be finished by 2015 and it is panning to triple their current production by adding 9000 tons, making it the largest production plant in the world.

The use of carbon fiber makes the car stronger, safer, lighter, faster, but what is more important to the manufacturer, more fuel efficient. With CAFE and EU standards setting the bar high for the next decade, fuel efficiency is giving car manufacturers a headache. Lighter body parts seem to be part of the solution for this, and as we saw during our trip to Detroit, with tier 1 manufacturers making most of the parts in the car, this is one of the few parts that the manufacturer can take part of. It is important to bring up this last detail because it is not a widely known fact that most of the car parts and improvements in efficiency come from these tier 1 manufacturers. Then the questions that come up are: how much will it depend on the car manufacturers to meet the CAFE standards? While carbon fiber might save oil, it is not as good as steel for recycling, therefor creating a lot of waste, then, is carbon fiber the solution when trying to be more environmentally friendly?




  1. Alexander Dawejko
    Alexander Dawejko

    How will BMW deal with the fact that carbon fiber is much more expensive than metal? Will the price of their cars increase?

    May 10, 2014
  2. Louis Ike
    Louis Ike

    It is interesting to see car manufacturers start moving towards these lighter and stronger materials. Ford has already begun to do this with aluminum in its F-150 trucks and I suppose BMW will begin a similar process with its product lines and carbon fiber. In my mind, it is rather odd that these large auto manufacturers didn’t move to better materials for their vehicle bodies until now. It seems that the incentive structure did not call for the movement towards these materials until now with the rising CAFE standards and changing consumer preferences.

    May 15, 2014
  3. New materials (as noted in other comments) include new steels, too. What OEMs now have are a greater range of options for adding strength / taking out weight on a selective basis. Where you really, really need strength then steel, but perhaps hot-stamped steel or a hydroformed structure. For bodies, aluminum. For liftgates, magnesium. For engine compartments, various high-performance plastics and carbon fiber elements, for … all selected with cost in mind. Carbon fiber won’t dominate, it’s just one more item on this menu of materials.

    May 19, 2014

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