Sunday, May 8, 2011

BMW Carbon Fibers Factory in Moses Lake, WA is Completed and Ready To Begin Production

It may not be much to look at in the above picture, but this newly constructed factory in Moses Lake, Washington will play a big role in the BMW i3 and probably many other future BMW vehicles.

BMW, along with the SGL Group built this facility in Moses Lake primarily because they will be able to take advantage of the inexpensive electricity which is mostly all generated by hydro power. Besides the cheap electric rates, this renewable way of generating electricity is in line with BMW's commitment to sustainability, and allows them to make the energy-intensive carbon fiber material without producing nearly as much pollution as they would if they were using electricity from a coal burning power plant. 

This facility will employ 80 workers by the end of this year and up to 200 once all six buildings on the campus are completed and operational. With these plans, it's obvious that BMW intends on using CFRP in many more vehicles than only the i3. This is more evidence the i3 may just be the "revolutionary" vehicle that BMW has been touting it as. The combination of the highly efficient electric drivetrain, the newly developed lithium-ion battery cells that are nickel-manganese-cobalt chemistry and the extensive use of advanced materials sounds like the engineers have been busy at work. 

Hopefully the designers do as good a job on the vehicles appearance. It's hard to tell what's under all the camouflage in the spy photo's we have seen, but the overall shape doesn't really capture the sleek, streamlined look that the BMW-released rendering appeared to have. However we'll have to wait until we see an actual pre-production i3 without all the camouflage to really critique the design. Rumor has it we'll only have to wait until the Frankfurt Auto Show in September...

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