Toyota weaves its own carbon fiber for the Lexus LFA and, so far, is the only automaker to do so. BMW recently entered a joint venture with the SGL Group to manufacture carbon fiber for the upcoming Megacity Vehicle, becoming the second automotive manufacturer to have a direct role in carbon fiber weaving.
In the partnership, BMW will invest €90 million ($133 million) for the first phase of development, and take a 49 percent share in the company. BMW will leave SGL Group the majority share, but all business decisions will now be made jointly.
“This joint venture is designed to be a classic win-win situation,” said Norbert Reithofer, BMW Management Board Chairman. “The SGL Group is moving into the automobile business with us as a strong partner.
“With our concepts within project I, we are breaking new ground when it comes to vehicle architecture, lightweight design, and the use of materials.”
The first vehicle to use carbon fiber from the joint venture will be BMW’s Megacity vehicle, which will be launched between 2010 and 2015. BMW says the Megacity will make extensive use of the lightweight material to greatly reduce the vehicle’s mass and decrease fuel consumption. In the future, BMW as well as other automakers believe the strong, lightweight material will become increasingly important in decreasing a vehicle’s weight to achieve the ever-increasing fuel economy standards.
“This joint venture with the BMW Group is a milestone for the use of carbon fibers on an industrial scale in the automobile industry,” said Robert Koehler, CEO of the SGL Group. “This material will help to reduce CO2 emissions and save our natural resources.”