BMW, partner announce Moses Lake plans

Washington state’s cheap, green hydropower and favorable business climate have helped lure a European joint venture to Moses Lake.

Joint venture partners BMW and SGL today announced they’ll open a new $100 million plant in Moses Lake, where they’ll make carbon-fiber parts for BMW’s new Megacity electric car, which the German auto-maker plans to launch before 2015.

The new SGL Carbon plant in Moses Lake is one of two that BMW and SGL are opening worldwide. It will provide 80 jobs in the start-up phase, executives said.

In a statement, BMW and SGL said that the decision to build the plant in Moses Lake “was based primarily on the availability of renewable clean hydropower and competitive energy costs in the state of Washington.”

However, “favorable infrastructure conditions, existing utilities, a skilled labor force and ease of working with the local government were also contributing factors,” the companies said. Earlier this year, the state extended extra incentives to the joint venture by promising $2 million in state funding toward a $7 million electrical power substation for the plant.

“This new plant in Moses Lake is a milestone in the use of carbon fibers for large scale production in the automotive industry,” said Robert Koehler, CEO SGL Group. “It will be the world’s most cost efficient carbon fiber plant using state-of-the-art technologies.”

The goal of the partnership is to “ensure that carbon fibers play a revolutionary role in lightweight automotive construction,” he added.

Washington is a global leader in composites research and manufacturing, in large part because Boeing pioneered the use of composite materials in aircraft with the 787. Washington has research centers at the University of Washington and worker-training centers at both Edmonds and Everett community colleges. And last year, Italian automaker Lamborghini created an advanced composites lab with UW in Seattle to study ways to use composites in the auto industry.

UPDATE: Gov. Chris Gregoire just released a statement calling today’s announcement “a big win for Moses Lake and our state as a whole.”

“I am pleased the venture was drawn to our state’s affordable, renewable energy, our skilled labor force and the cooperation from both state and local agencies,” the governor said. “I know other companies looking to locate and expand here will be attracted to those qualities, as well.”

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Comments
One Response to “BMW, partner announce Moses Lake plans”
  1. Ejik says:

    If they could make that carbon fiber cheaper, and more affordable to people, it would be even better!

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