Moses Lake carbon fiber plant could double

OLYMPIA-- BMW and a German manufacturing partner could double the size of a facility now under construction in Moses Lake as the need grows for more carbon fiber parts in cars, Gov. Chris Gregoire said Friday.

Speaking on a conference call from Germany, where she had attended the debut of the electric vehicle that will use parts from the SGL Automotive factory in Moses Lake, Gregoire said discussions already are underway to expand the facility. Construction of the factory employs 200 workers and the factory will have 80 jobs when it is up and running.

It will produce parts for BMW's all electric car, scheduled to hit the market in 2013.

But that is being referred to as Phase I, with Phase II under discussion and a possible Phase III down the road as BMW expands the use of carbon fiber parts to its internal combustion vehicles, Gregoire said.

"BMW now believes carbon fiber is the future for any vehicle," she said. It has advantages for safety, weight and mileage.

A decision on Phase II, which would double the size and work force of the facility, could be made early next year, auto executives said. BMW and SGL are also interested in discussing research projects with the University of Washington on repairing and recycling carbon fiber parts.

BMW and SGL chief executive officers will visit the state, Gregoire said, and she invited German Chancellor Angela Merkel to come to Washington, also.

BMW and SGL announced last April that Moses Lake was selected for a 60-acre, $100 million facility to build carbon fiber parts for the Megacity electric car, and began construction in early July.

Gregoire was at the end of a two-day visit to German in which she toured BMW plants in Munich and Leipzig and attended the ground-breaking ceremony for the BMW factory that will use the parts made in Moses Lake.