SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers—a joint venture of the BMW Group and SGL Group (earlier post)—broke ground on the new greenfield carbon fiber manufacturing facility in Moses Lake, Washington.

The facility in Moses Lake is a fundamental component of the joint venture’s strategy to commercialize manufacturing of lightweight carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP) for use in BMW Group’s future Megacity Vehicle. (Earlier post.) Carbon fiber technology is becoming increasingly important in the materials substitution process to lighter materials, which helps to improve fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions.

During the initial phase of development, BMW Group and SGL Group will invest US$100 million. The plant will initially run two carbon fiber lines, each with annual capacity of 1,500 metric tons. The first carbon fiber line will be commissioned in the third quarter of 2011.

The carbon fibers manufactured in Moses Lake will be used exclusively for BMW Group’s demand, the first application being the upcoming Megacity Vehicle. In February of this year, BMW Group announced that this new vehicle for urban mobility—set to be launched in 2013 under a BMW sub-brand—will be assembled in Leipzig, Germany.

The joint venture operates two sites, one in Moses Lake, Washington for carbon fiber production and one in Wackersdorf, Germany for carbon fiber fabric production.