Moses Lake woos BMW carbon-fiber factory

Grant County is one of two places in North America that German automaker BMW is considering for a factory that would make carbon-fiber components for the company’s proposed new line of electric cars.

The Puget Sound Business Journal reports that BMW could decide as soon as next week whether to put the plant in Moses Lake, or at a competing location — believed to be in Canada.

Once established, the 200,000-square-foot plant would employ about 180 people, the PSBJ reports. (You may have to register to read the whole story online.) Backers are hoping that it could be the start of an auto industry cluster in Washington state.

The Business Journal says that Grant County’s cheap, carbon-neutral electricity, generated at a pair of Columbia River dams, is a big drawing card for the project.

We’d also think that Washington’s leadership in composites research and manufacturing would be a significant factor. In large part because Boeing pioneered the use of composite materials in aircraft with the 787, Washington state has become a global leader in the field, with research centers at the University of Washington and worker-training centers at both Edmonds and Everett community colleges. Last year, Italian automaker Lamborghini created an advanced composites lab with UW in Seatte to study ways to use composites in the auto industry.

BMW seems serious about bringing electric cars to market, and has said it plans to be mass-producing them by 2015. Its first foray into the field came last year, with a fleet of 600 electric-powered Mini Coopers, which it leased to select customers around the United States and Europe. It’s expected to unveil a second concept vehicle – the ActiveE — at this month’s Detroit Auto Show.

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  1. [...] The Columbia Basin Herald reports that Grant County PUD has been negotiating since December with SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers. That’s the name of the joint venture formed in October 2009 between BMW and SGL Carbon, a German manufacturer of carbon fiber materials. The Herald report follows a report in the Puget Sound Business Journal, which we noted earlier this month. [...]



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