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SGL-MRC Joint Venture: successful startup of precursor production in Japan for BMW i3

News International-French

26 May 2011

MRC SGL Precursor Co. Ltd. (MSP) – the joint venture between Mitsubishi Rayon Co. Ltd. (MRC) and SGL Group – has successfully and on schedule started its production of precursor, the raw material for carbon fibers. The joint venture plant in Otake was not affected by the earthquake in Japan.

Dr. Jürgen Köhler, Chairman of SGL Group’s Business Unit Carbon Fibers & Composite Materials: “The objective of our joint venture with Mitsubishi Rayon is to ensure the exclusive 50k precursor supply for SGL Group and consequently also for SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers, our joint venture with the BMW Group. Thanks to the close cooperation with our partner Mitsubishi Rayon, we were able to set up the new precursor production within the challenging time schedule as announced one year ago. We are now ready to provide precursor, which is a key success factor for the carbon fibers and fabrics used in the new BMW i3.”


Takahiro Ono, Representative Director of MSP: “We are proud to be a partner of SGL Group and the BMW Group in this milestone project for the automotive industry. We did everything possible to fulfill the high expectations of SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers and meet the tight schedule during these difficult times.”


The joint venture has successfully completed the commissioning phase and has assumed commercial production of precursor. MSP is based at the MRC production site in Otake/Japan and will deliver first commercial quantities of polyacrylonitrile (PAN) based precursor to SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers (SGL ACF) in the second quarter of this year.



Global Supply Chain: Japan – North America – Germany

The precursor manufactured by MSP in Otake will be converted to carbon fibers at the SGL ACF plant in Moses Lake (WA/USA), where SGL ACF is currently building a new grass root carbon fiber plant with an annual capacity of approximately 3,000 tons. Start of production is scheduled for the 3rd quarter 2011. These fibers will then be processed into lightweight carbon fiber fabrics at the second SGL ACF site in Wackersdorf (Germany). The carbon fiber composite parts (CFRP) will be made from these fabrics at the BMW Group plant in Landshut (Germany). The assembly of the Megacity Vehicle – which will be launched in 2013 as BMW i3 – will take place at the BMW Group plant in Leipzig (Germany).


The precursor is a critical success factor for the production of carbon fibers. Mitsubishi Rayon has already been a supplier of precursor to SGL Group for many years. The targeted 50k precursor has been tailored to meet the needs of the automotive industry, particularly in terms of quality and cost efficiency.



About Mitsubishi Rayon

Mitsubishi Rayon Co., Ltd. was established in 1933 as Japan’s first manufacturer of rayon staple fibers. In the 1940s Mitsubishi launched a methyl methacrylate (MMA) business, which today is the core operation. In the years since, the company has expanded the business into the field of synthetic resin, synthetic fibers, carbon fibers, hollow-fiber membranes, and optical fibers, based on Mitsubishi’s proprietary polymer technologies.

In May 2009 the company acquired Lucite International Group Ltd., a major manufacturer of MMA. This has made Mitsubishi the world’s largest MMA manufacturer, with production capacity of 1,356,000 tons and a global share of 37% in terms of production capacity. Mitsubishi Rayon Co., Ltd. has more than 30 manufacturing facilities and eight research institutes in Japan, other Asian countries, Europe, and North America, and employs about 8,500 workers. In fiscal 2010 the Company registered sales of 365 billion Japanese Yen (Euro 3.08 billion) on a consolidated basis. In September 2010, Mitsubishi Rayon Co., Ltd. was fully integrated into Mitsubishi Chemicals Holding Corporation, one of the leading chemical groups in the world.



About SGL Group – The Carbon Company

SGL Group is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of carbon-based products. It has a comprehensive portfolio ranging from carbon and graphite products to carbon fibers and composites. SGL Group’s core competencies are its expertise in high-temperature technology as well as its applications and engineering know-how gained over many years. These competencies enable the Company to make full use of its broad material base. SGL Group’s carbon-based materials combine several unique properties such as electrical and thermal conductivity, heat and corrosion resistance as well as high mechanical strength combined with low weight. Due to the paradigm shift in the use of materials as a result of the worldwide shortage of energy and raw materials, there is a growing demand for SGL Group’s high-performance materials and products from an increasing number of industries. Carbon and graphite products are used whenever other materials such as steel, aluminum, copper, plastics, wood etc. fail due to their limited properties. Products from SGL Group are used predominantly in the steel, aluminum, automotive, chemical and glass/ceramics industries. However, manufacturers in the semiconductor, battery, solar/wind energy, environmental protection, aerospace and defense industries as well as in the nuclear energy industry also figure among the Company’s customers.

With 45 production sites in Europe, North America and Asia as well as a service network covering more than 100 countries, SGL Group is a company with a global presence. In 2010, the Company’s workforce of approximately 6,300 generated sales of €1,4 billion. The Company’s head office is located in Wiesbaden/Germany.




as unveiled on the 21th of April 2011.