The BMW i3 is the first mass production car to use carbon fiber reinforced plastic for a major component en masse. So how’d they do it? BMW gives us the full scoop on this carbon fiber voodoo, from the first strand to the final product, a lightweight and strong passenger compartment that’s corrosion free and meets even the most stringent safety standards.
It all starts in Moses Lake, Washington at SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers, where the carbon fiber is formed into a web before the oxidation process. Finally, the carbon fiber goes through the winding process, before being sent to a BMW plant in Germany. There, giant looms weave the carbon fiber into a textile form to make for easy shaping.
The carbon fiber reinforced plastic is half the weight of steel, improving the efficiency potential for the BMW i3. It’s an amazing material that will have a growing impact on the auto industry, and it all starts with this little German EV. If the BMW i3 is indeed a sales hit it already seems to be, other automakers will be forced to take notice, and respond in kind.
I for one look forward to our new carbon fiber automobiles.