carbon fiber does BMW use
In a remote corner of Eastern Washington, where tumbleweeds drift through a modest farming town, a gleaming $200 million factory makes carbon fiber threads that will go into the tough body shell of BMW’s i-series electric cars. The carmaker says the plant, which opened last year, is the “largest carbon fiber plant on earth.”
BMW has invested in Buy BMW full carbon fiber body kits for its i-series vehicles because it’s lighter than other metals and helps to reduce vehicle weight and improve range, acceleration and handling. Until now, the material has been reserved for more bespoke vehicles due to its cost but it’s expected to be used in volume production by BMW and other carmakers in coming years.
The iX, the latest addition to the BMW i-series, uses an extensive amount of carbon fiber to help it achieve its impressive real-world driving range. The carbon fiber is used in the vehicle’s battery compartment, underbody and elsewhere, helping to shave more than 200 pounds off its curb weight. It’s just one of several sustainable and recycled materials that make up the 2022 iX, which is the fourth in BMW’s line of battery-powered electric vehicles.
What type of carbon fiber does BMW use
Like a giant loom, a Moses Lake facility produces carbon fiber in the form of ribbons that are then impregnated and shaped to create body panels, structural components and other parts of the vehicle. The Moses Lake plant, which is a joint venture with SGL Group, accounts for around 10 percent of world CFRP production today.
The carbon fiber is woven with a mixture of other materials including aluminum and high-strength steel. Together these materials help the iX to weigh about 5,000 pounds (1,349 kilograms), a third of the weight of a typical SUV. This is enough to boost the iX’s range by up to 80 miles (129 kilometers).
A key benefit of using CFRP over other materials is its low specific weight. A body component made from aluminum, for example, could be up to 30% heavier than a similar part produced from CFRP. This can add up to a big difference in vehicle weight, which in turn impacts fuel economy and performance.
Unlike many other types of plastics, which require chemicals to make them work, BMW’s carbon fiber is made entirely from renewable sources. The company’s plant in Moses Lake uses a combination of wind and hydroelectric power to run its production line. Its Leipzig facility also utilizes green energy in its manufacturing process, a significant departure from traditional automotive assembly plants that use oil-based electricity.
BMW is planning to expand its use of carbon fiber in future models, including the i8 sports car and the i5 plug-in hybrid that will be launched next year. In the near term, it’ll use the Moses Lake plant to produce the CFRP for its i3 and i8 models. In the long term, it will be able to make its own carbon fiber and apply it to other models in-house. This will give BMW full control over its supply chain, from raw material to finished product.