BMW Turns To Japan’s Toray As Source For Additional Carbon Fiber


One Has To Wonder Why  BMW's Joint Venture SGL Facility In The U.S. Is Not Being Called Upon For Additional Carbon Fiber Supply

One Has To Wonder Why BMW’s Joint Venture SGL Facility In The U.S. Is Not Being Called Upon For Additional Carbon Fiber Supply

BMW Carbon Fiber

BMW Carbon Fiber

Immediately, one has to wonder why BMW isn’t turning to joint venture partner SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers to supply additional carbon fiber to the German automaker.  Could it be that labor and production costs are too high in the U.S? (Note: SGL is located in the state of Washington).

Instead of turning to SGL for increased carbon fiber supply, BMW will instead look to Japan’s Toray and a new facility in Mexico:

Toray to supply carbon fiber to BMW

TOKYO — Toray will supply carbon fiber to BMW, with plans to double production capacity at a Mexican plant.

The German automaker is spearheading efforts to increase the material’s use in car production as a means of improving fuel economy. In preparation, the Japanese company will spend about 30 billion yen ($246 million) on upgrading a Mexican plant of U.S.-based Zoltek, which it acquired this year to make automotive carbon fiber.

The two companies are currently hammering out details of the arrangement, which will most likely involve Toray supplying BMW directly.

Toray is the world leader in carbon fiber, while BMW is the automotive pioneer in carbon fiber use in mass-produced cars.  The tie-up seems a good fit and with a deal to be inked soon, it seems likely that SGL will eventually be pushed out of business.

The carmaker has been purchasing the material from a compatriot in which it invests. But with the need for a bigger supplier, it homed in on industry leader Toray, which commands a 32% market share in carbon fiber.

By partnering with BMW, a pioneer in the material’s application, Toray stands to gain the footing necessary to take a leading role in the growing automotive carbon fiber market.

The Japanese company aims to triple sales in its carbon fiber segment from fiscal 2013 levels, eyeing 300 billion yen around 2020.

Source: Nikkei

Categories: BMW

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6 Comments on "BMW Turns To Japan’s Toray As Source For Additional Carbon Fiber"

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Congrats to insideevs in trying to be the Fox News of EV blogging.

“Could it be that labor and production costs are too high in the US?”

We’re just asking the question folks!

“It seems likely that SGL will be pushed out of business.”

Really? Based upon… no knowledge of any situation? Sure.

Hey, does Eric Loveday make sweet sweet love to llamas on the loose? Look folks, we’re just asking the questions here.


Most likely they want to diversify to minimize risk of supply price increases or interruptions with delivery.


The SGL plant Moses Lake, WA plant just completed a $100 million upgrade to the ~$200 million plant. Its said to produce 20% of global demand at 9300 tons CF.

If Toray is to produce 32% of global supply (from above), this means BMW is sourcing over 50% of the global market. Expect the additional plant in Mexico is to add geographic risk reduction (in case of natural disaster causing a disruption).

Most interesting is BMW is more than doubling its CF sourcing. This suggests a doubling in i-platform production! Does this mean a production capacity of 60,000+ i-EVs per year is in the works?

FYI: There was a west-coast port strike that shut down 29 ports for a couple months that just ended. It cause Honda NA to stop production as supplies from Japan couldn’t be off loaded from ships. This may have alarmed BMW thus creating a more distributed supply line for CF production.


Riiiiiight, so did you also miss the part where BMW/SGL are expanding in Moses Lake. This is about getting more volume for the next 7-series(rumored to be using extensive carbon fiber to lower weight dramatically) and the growth in the i-line as well.


Most of Toray’s business is in aerospace, and there are important differences in how fibers are processed for jetliners versus how they’re processed for automobiles.

Toray has another plant in Washington, in Tacoma. But like their plant in Nagoya, it makes aerospace fibers.

The Moses Lake facility is out there for cheap electricity, not because of proximity to the factory (in Germany) or to cheap labor (in Mexico).

I agree that this is more about supply volume, supplier diversity and the West Coast port shutdown than about any sort of souring relationship with SGL.

“SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers is investing $100 million to add two new production lines at its Moses Lake plant”

“The company will double production capacity of its existing operation on 60 acres, opened in 2012 and today employing about 50.”

– Nov 19, 2013