FRANKFURT -- BMW AG has set up a joint venture with carbon-fiber specialist SGL Group to build lightweight components for BMW's Meg-acity electric vehicle.
The new entity, in which SGL has a 51 percent stake, will build a plant in North America and one in Germany to make carbon fiber automotive parts on a large scale for the first time, the companies said.
BMW's Megacity car is an offshoot of the carmaker's Project i, which seeks to develop transportation options for urban areas with more than 10 million inhabitants. BMW recently enlisted a Robert Bosch and Samsung SDI joint venture to supply lithium ion battery cells for the vehicles.
"We will enter into a new dimension in the use of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastics, both in terms of volume per car and in vehicle numbers," a BMW spokesman said, declining to be more specific.
So far, carbon-fiber components are used almost exclusively in luxury cars and sports cars.
Production is expected to start in the first half of the next decade, SGL said.
"For the first time, carbon fibers are taking on an important role in series vehicle manufacture," SGL said.
The deal is the latest in a slew of joint ventures formed by Germany's SGL to branch out into the industrial use of its carbon products.
In May, SGL combined its carbon ceramic brake discs business with Italy's Brembo. Last year it set up a company to supply carbon-fiber composites for the car industry with Germany's Benteler Automobiltechnik GmbH.
SGL looks to reduce its dependence on its best-selling graphite electrodes for steel furnaces by boosting sales of carbon-fiber and composite carbon materials to makers of aircraft, windmills and automobiles.
(Source: Automotive News)