This video should be 10 minutes of pure joy for carbon fiber fanatics to witness. It features BMW's new CFRP (carbon fiber reinforced plastic) manufacturing plant and many steps of the carbon fiber parts production process. CF will be used extensively in BMW's future Megacity electric vehicle due in 2013 and is currently used as roof material for some M cars.
The Megacity's construction will be of a body-on-frame. The lower half is the "drive" module -- an aluminum chassis that melds the battery, electric drive system and crash structure. A high-strength, lightweight, carbon fiber passenger compartment is attached on top. The key benefit is weight reduction, a prime consideration in reducing the weight and cost of the battery, while providing sufficient range.
BMW will push suppliers for 100 percent recyclability of parts. Innovative use of weight-saving carbon fiber is a key to making the design work. BMW has partnered with SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers to build a carbon fiber plant in Moses Lake, Wash.
Carbon fiber-reinforced plastic parts will be impregnated with color, removing the need for a paint shop. That will reduce energy use and emissions.
BMW will go to great lengths to reduce the cost of carbon fiber. BMW's process involves reuse of scrap, enabled by a new technique of turning carbon strands into sheets of fiber. BMW will use a new "quasi-stamping process" to make smaller carbon fiber-reinforced plastic parts than automakers normally use, saving cost and time.
Some of this process is featured in the video.