BMW absolutely loves carbon fiber, and it wants the entire world to know it. In fact, the boys from Bavaria love the lightweight, ultra-strong material so much that it is used quite liberally on the all-new i3 and i8 as well as the company’s infamous M performance models like the M3 and M5. The German company recently announced that it is pouring another $200 million into its Moses Lake, Washington carbon fiber production facility, all with the aim of increasing output dramatically.
How dramatically? BMW says that carbon fiber will no longer be limited to just its i and M models, but instead it will be used increasingly on its “normal” models. It used to be that carbon fiber was a material reserved only for high-performance vehicles and anything that was considered exotic (which usually also meant it was high-performance). Having carbon fiber on your car was a status symbol, like having chrome spinner wheels but without the extra weight and the annoying bling everyone hated and loved at the same time.
Production of carbon fiber at BMW’s Washington facility right now is at about 3,000 tons every year. The new investment would bump that annual figure up to 9,000 tons of carbon fiber produced each year. Lest you be afraid that BMW will be killing the environment and polluting the skies to increase production of carbon fiber at the plant, it has reassured everyone that it will continue to use hydroelectric power for the manufacturing equipment.
The benefits of more carbon fiber on BMW models are apparent. The lightweight material helps dramatically increase acceleration, cornering and stopping performance on cars, plus with the weight reduction those cars consume less fuel, which in turn cuts emissions. Another effect of the move will likely be that BMW’s competitors will start incorporating carbon fiber even more, which could eventually mean that your Mazda3 would have carbon fiber components.