Cantwell Helps Launch New ‘Car of the Future,’ Made with Cutting-Edge Carbon Fiber from Moses Lake
Moses Lake plant built material for first ever carbon fiber car frame, supporting 80 jobs in Grant County
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) highlighted the leadership in Moses Lake and Washington state on composite manufacturing, during the Washington D.C. rollout of a new electric car that uses carbon fiber made at a Moses Lake factory. The manufacturing facility, SGL Carbon Fiber, supports 80 high-skilled jobs in Grant County.
Cantwell’s remarks focused on how advanced manufacturing is revolutionizing electric mobility across the transportation sector, including with the next generation of American commercial aircraft.
To download footage of Senator Cantwell discussing Washington state’s role in today’s rollout and test-driving the i3, please click here.
To view photos of today’s rollout please click here.
Excerpts from Senator Cantwell’s speech:
- “The i3 is the first carbon fiber car frame in a mass market vehicle – and we’re proud that its carbon fiber is made in Washington state.”
- “It might be 2,500 miles away– but I can tell you this car makes a real difference in Grant County, Washington. In 2011 SGL Automotive Carbon Fiber opened the doors to a brand new plant in Moses Lake with 80 permanent jobs. Low-cost clean hydropower from the Columbia River helped reduce BMW reduce energy use in the i3 production by 50%.”
- “So to me it is truly a car of the future. BMW has made what is both an Ultimate Driving Machine and an Ultimate Green Energy Ride. A car that can blaze a trail on the Autobahn while barely leaving a carbon footprint. This is all possible because of a new wave in manufacturing: Composites. It’s a story we know well in the state of Washington because we are leader in composite manufacturing.”
- “We are proud to say that every one of these cars that we are going to see is going to have a piece of Washington in it.”
The Moses Lake carbon fiber is a critical component of the new BMW i3, an all-electric vehicle. The i3 represents the first time ever a carbon fiber frame has been used in mass production of an automobile. Using carbon fiber to replace conventional steel in automobiles can lower the weight of a vehicle by up to 50 percent, improving its battery range and fuel economy. The demand for this material in automobiles is estimated to grow by an annual rate of 8.4 percent through 2020.
In 2007, Cantwell introduced legislation with Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) along with then Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) to make plug-in hybrids and other electric automobiles more affordable for American consumers. A key provision of the bill that created a $7,500 tax credit for purchasers of plug-in electric vehicles became law in October 2008 as part of a bipartisan Cantwell-authored clean energy tax incentives package.
Senator Cantwell’s remarks follow:
Thank you Ludwig for that introduction and for your leadership.
I’m honored to be here to join BMW at the U.S. launch of the i3.
Today marks a pretty big step in advanced manufacturing of automobiles.
Today’s rollout is the FIRST TIME that carbon fiber has ever been used in a significant portion of a mass-market automobile. In this car 25 percent is carbon fiber and that structural use is significant.
It’s the first time in America that we are using 2 things that make for a winning combination: battery technology and carbon fiber.
The net result is a fuel savings of 50 percent for drivers. That’s a savings of $2,500 a year. A car that can go 150 miles on the equivalent of one gallon of gas.
So to me it is truly a car of the future. BMW has made what is both an Ultimate Driving Machine and an Ultimate Green Energy Ride.
A car that can blaze a trail on the Autobahn while barely leaving a carbon footprint.
This is all possible because of a new wave in manufacturing: Composites.
It’s a story we know well in the state of Washington because we are leader in composite manufacturing.
We have 100 composite companies with $3.3 billion in annual revenue. And we have programs in composite training at our community colleges and universities.
10 years ago we launched an FAA Center of Excellence on advanced materials in aviation. Paccar and PNNL also did good research work on power made light-weight composite doors on trucks.
We have seen composites in Washington advance dramatically. Today, as we are sitting here, at home people are discussing more in aviation – the 787 is made up of 50% composites. And it resulted in a 20% fuel savings for aviation.
So right now Washington state and Boeing are in conversations about even more composite manufacturing – bringing home the wing development for the next 777 project. So again it just shows you how far composites can go.
So why are composites so important?
A strand of carbon fiber is as thin as a piece of hair on the top of your head.
And it is stronger than steel, but half the weight. So that makes it a huge fuel saver.
It has taken years of advanced materials to get where we are. That has been significant private sector investment as well as public/private sector collaboration.
Now we are seeing that investment pay off. The i3 is a symbol of a new era of electric cars with lightweight carbon fiber as the foundation.
It reflects our commitment to reducing the carbon footprint of transportation – by making it lighter, stronger and improving fuel efficiency.
Efficiency is going to be the name of the game in the 21st century economy.
Drivers are looking for a more efficient ways – and they are looking to pay less for fuel.
Carbon fiber is 50 percent lighter than steel and 30 percent lighter than aluminum and allows the i3 to weigh hundreds of pounds less than vehicles in its same class.
Ludwig, I want to personally thank you for BMW choosing Moses Lake, Wash., to make the carbon fiber for this vehicle.
We appreciate the jobs.
It might be 2,500 miles away– but I can tell you this car makes a real difference in Grant County, Washington.
In 2011 SGL Automotive Carbon Fiber opened the doors to a brand new plant in Moses Lake with 80 permanent jobs.
Low-cost clean hydropower from the Columbia River helped BMW reduce energy use in the i3 production by 50%.
Now the plant has two lines that pump out 3,000 metric tons of carbon fiber. And one of these new i3 vehicles has that fiber in it.
In fact we are proud to say that every one of these cars that we are going to see is going to have a piece of Washington in it.
So this is truly an exciting time in automotive manufacturing and in our nation.
These are exactly the types of innovations that we expected to see when we pursued CAFE standards for more fuel efficient cars and we provided tax credits for electric vehicles.
Demand for electric vehicles continues to climb. And so with it does opportunities for job growth in composite materials.
We are helping to build a new clean economy that provides jobs and creates cars that are energy efficient.
So I’d like to thank you for a new era of electric mobility and environmental stewardship and for the i3 helping us to usher it in.
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