BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer said this week at Geneva that the company was "surprised" by Volkswagen's move to take an 8% stake in SGL Carbon SE, with whom BMW has a joint venture for production of carbon fiber. However, he added that that BMW's joint venture with the carbon-based products maker is expected to be unaffected by the deal, at least for the time being.
BMW plans greater use of the lightweight but strong carbon fiber material carbon fiber in its future vehicles. BMW and SGL planned to invest as much as 230 million euros ($317.9 million) in a joint venture to produce carbon fiber car bodies on an industrial scale. The future BMW i3 (Megacity) and the BMW i8 (Vision EfficientDynamic) will both feature body shells constructed of carbon fiber.
GENEVA (Reuters) – Volkswagen AG's acquisition of an 8.2 percent stake in carbon fiber specialist SGL Carbon surprised the latter's partner, BMW AG, signaling a potential source of conflict between the carmakers.
"VW did not tell us about it. We weren't warned in advance," Norbert Reithofer, CEO of BMW, told reporters on Tuesday during the Geneva auto show.
BMW and SGL planned to invest as much as 230 million euros ($317.9 million) in a joint venture to produce lightweight carbon fiber car bodies on an industrial scale as part of its vaunted efforts to roll out an ultra-green BMW electric car for megacities such as Shanghai.
First announced in October 2009, the BMW-SGL JV would produce several thousand tons of carbon fiber annually. Six months later, Mercedes-Benz formed a joint venture with carbon fiber industry leader Toray of Japan in a move that underscored the growing strategic importance of high-tech, lightweight materials in the fight to reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions.