Hey guys and gals,
I don't venture onto the e90 section of the forums very often, but if anyone here ever visits the 1Addicts section you might have seen me around for the past few years. I am an enthusiast first and a businessman second, but I have recently had an interesting opportunity come up regarding carbon fiber products.
I was originally going to pursue this project mostly for the 1 series because our aftermarket isn't nearly as large as the one for the 3 series, but I have decided that it's in everyone's best interest to expand.
Simply put, I only have enough money to do one (maybe two) thing(s) at first. These things have to be awesome, and they have to sell, because their hopeful success will allow this project to expand. Molds for carbon fiber parts cost thousands, and I don't have spare money lying around. If I can find a prospective product that can allow me to continue with this project, it would be ideal.
Basically, since I am not familiar with the aftermarket for the 3 series.. what parts do you guys need? Or, what do you need for cheaper?
The original idea (quoted below) was to manufacture QUALITY parts for cheaper. Nobody wants to spend a ridiculous amount of money on parts from BMW or other companies who believe in the "BMW tax", but nobody wants to waste money on China eBay parts that might not fit or have terrible carbon weaves.
My solution is something of a middle ground. If you look at the pictures and updates below, I have found a quality source of carbon fiber that can be cheaper than what you are paying now. I already have a good gauge on what the 1 series market "needs," but now I'm interested in you guys. What do you need for cheaper?
I'll post up my original 1Addicts post, as well as my updates, so you can all get an idea of what exactly I am thinking of.
Full thread: http://www.1addicts.com/forums/showthread.php?t=626359
Original Post - Dec 21, 2011 - Originally included a poll
Update - June 27, 2012
I have recently been put into a very interesting situation. A friend of my father's, a Chinese businessman, and his son have been working with their contacts in China to produce some new and unique firearms modifications. It recently came to my attention that these same contacts could possibly also go into the business of carbon fiber, specifically carbon fiber parts for our cars.
This past weekend we all had a brief meeting and this idea definitely seems doable, as long as there is sufficient interest in this. We would be using an existing factory and we would pretty much be making what you guys want us to make. I have no particular direction I am thinking of taking regarding the specific CF parts I want to be made, so I am leaving it up to you guys.
I know a lot of people on here are very cautious when it comes to China-made carbon fiber, but I am confident that if there's interest I can provide some cheaper, more varied, and good-quality alternatives to what is already out there. I don't want this to turn into yet another China-based knockoff part factory.
Since I would be involved, I would make quality control a top priority since I am all too familiar with the junk we have put up with in the past. I am also confident that China can indeed make a good quality carbon fiber product, as my China-made eyelids have a near flawless weave and clearcoat, though the fit left something to be desired. Also, since the infrastructure is already in place overseas, I am thinking I won't run into the same trouble iCarbon did and not be able to keep up with demand. But all of this depends on if our contacts think there is indeed enough interest for this endeavor, so don't be shy in letting me know if there's anything at all that you guys would want!
So.. all that said... Would YOU buy a Carbon Fiber piece from China from me? What pieces do you guys have interest in? What price range would you find acceptable for said pieces? Also, what style would you guys like the pieces to be in? Making pieces out of plastic and fiberglass is also possible, so let me know if anyone would be interested in that as well.
Even if you're not sure about anything at all, please post to let me know you're interested at all! Getting this project off the ground requires input from enthusiasts like yourselves.
So, we had a meeting this past weekend. Sorry it took so long to update you guys, but it looked like the forums were down a couple of days ago, and I've been a bit busy.
We have officially found a viable production site. I have included some pretty cool pictures that were taken on site. As you can see, the carbon fiber is of great quality. The facility already produces carbon fiber race seats, spoilers, bumpers, helmets, exhaust pipes, and more for the automotive market, as well as other things (that I'm not quite sure what they are) for other industries. They are experienced and will definitely suit our needs. There are certainly other companies and factories out in China that have inferior products which are really out to screw you over, but we believe we found the highest quality production site we could use. We hate "eBay quality" parts just as much as anyone else.
I am very excited about this, and we are estimating that by the fall, we can actually have a product. What this product will be, however, is a different matter.
Here's the issue.. in order to produce parts, we need the toolings. A mold is pretty expensive (thousands of dollars) to produce, and I'm not sure if we can even afford to have a mold for more than one product at this point. Maybe we can... or the case may be that we will have to wait until we actually have some revenue from the first mold in order to move on to the next one.
The good news is that a mold can be used for thousands of units... we just really have to be careful in picking a first part that we can actually sell a high enough quantity of in order to afford the next mold/product. Also, we can still get to work designing and engineering new products while the first item begins production, so there isn't a months-long wait to start production on something different. But the matter is... at this point in time, we don't know what the initial product should be, and this is where we need more help from you guys.
So.. if you guys had to choose ONE thing that you want, that nobody else is doing right now (at least to start off with)... what would it be?
Our other option would be to try and find something that works across more models. This wouldn't be ideal, but it would guarantee a bigger customer pool so that the (hopeful) success of that product would allow us to continue with more focused products. Kind of like how Porsche sells lots of Cayennes which help fund what everyone really wants. Okay, not exactly the same, but similar. I haven't done enough research at this point in time to know what could work for this, though.
What do you guys think? What one product would you like most? Can any consensus be reached? Also, what do you guys think of the carbon fiber itself? Good quality for China? Good quality overall? Is everyone still interested, or is this just a pipe dream?
And now, some pictures...
Rolls of carbon fiber
Carbon fiber spoiler
Mold for a race seat
Rough molds for bumpers
Look carefully, it's a helmet.
Not sure what these are, but they look nice
Carbon fiber pipes/tubes
As you can see, the quality is there, and the price should be there. If I want this to work, though, I just need input from you guys to let me know what you want to see. Since there is a much larger 3 series market, I may have to focus on 3 series first just to get enough saved to make more molds and expand. Or, I can find something that works for both cars (engine cover, intake snorkel, maybe side mirrors, are all suggestions that should work on all cars with the same engine at least). Or, if I find that the 1 series market has more people interested, I could focus on that first before expanding. Like I said, I am not familiar with the 3 series, or what's already available and for how much. It's all dependent on you guys. If you are truly interested and want this to work, it will work.
Anyway, thank you for looking!