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SGL Group's carbon fiber materials in the BMW 7 series

News International-French

27 Apr 2015

With its application in the new BMW 7 series, carbon fiber reinforced plastics is now making its way into large-scale production in the premium car segment.

A few years ago, carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP) in the automotive industry were mostly used as design elements. Later, CFRP was applied in structural components in special edition models and luxury sports vehicles produced in small numbers. Especially driven by the BMW i3 and i8 models, CFRP had a breakthrough in the automotive serial production. With its application in the new BMW 7 series, the material is now for the first time making its way into large-scale production in the premium car segment.

Referred to as “Carbon Core”, BMW introduced with the new 7 series an innovative hybrid construction method. This application of CFRP leads to substantial weight reduction and also helps to further enhance the driving dynamics by lowering the vehicle’s center of gravity. Overall, the new 7 series generation is up to 130 kilograms lighter than the previous one, despite significantly improved comfort and safety features.

Fully automated manufacture of carbon fiber preforms by SGL Group – carbon fiber recycling products as an additional contribution towards sustainability
The carbon fiber material for the hybrid roof frame construction comes from SGL Group being involved in various stages of the value chain. The carbon fibers will be produced by the joint venture SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers (SGL ACF) in Moses Lake in the US State of Washington. The required production capacities for the carbon fibers were built up in the past years.

As a next step in the value chain specific preforms will be manufactured using the fibers in fully automated textile production processes. The preforms are then delivered directly to the BMW Group for CFRP parts manufacture. Following the BMW i models, the overall volume of carbon fiber used in the new BMW 7 series makes this the second largest serial production project industry-wide.

In addition to the carbon fiber products for the roof frame, SGL Group also delivers carbon fiber fabrics and recycling materials, manufactured at the SGL ACF site in Wackersdorf. Developed in cooperation with BMW, these carbon fiber recycling products will be used in the C-pillar and in the trunk compartment partition. Consisting of recycled carbon fibers this is a further contribution towards sustainability.

Jürgen Köhler, CEO of SGL Group: "The use of our carbon fiber based products in the new BMW 7 series is another milestone in the large-scale serial application of carbon materials in the automotive industry. This project also further underlines the great potential of carbon fibers for innovative automobile applications and demonstrates that SGL Group's long-term development of the entire value chain is paying off."

Long-term cooperation with BMW Group
Andreas Wüllner, Head of the Business Unit Carbon Fibers & Composite Materials of SGL Group and Managing Director of SGL ACF: “The innovation partnership between BMW Group and SGL Group has started 15 years ago and had its first highlight with the utilization of carbon fibers and carbon fiber fabrics in the BMW i models. With the introduction of the hybrid construction method “Carbon Core” for the passenger cell of the new BMW 7 Series, the cooperation is now being developed further”.

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