February 17, 2014 10:58 CET
FRANKFURT (Bloomberg) -- BMW Group is building a second production hall at a carbon-fiber factory jointly run with SGL Carbon SE to respond to growing demand for its i-subbrand models.
The automaker says it also expects to use the material in other vehicles in its lineup.
"We're preparing the roll out of carbon fiber material in models beyond the i- model range" and the M performance-car unit, Mathias Schmidt, a BMW spokesman, said.
German business daily Handelsblatt reported today that the carmaker is planning to use carbon fiber for its planned new 7 series, expected by the end of next year.
The automaker introduced the i3 electric in November and will roll out the i8 plug-in hybrid supercar later this year. The i8 is already sold out for its first year of availability. Both models feature a carbon-fiber chassis to reduce weight and improve fuel efficiency.
Chief Financial Officer Friedrich Eichiner said in October that the company is considering a production increase for the i3 after early demand for the model exceeded the automaker's expectations. BMW has received 11,000 orders globally for the compact car and expects to sell more than 10,000 i3s this year.
"We're preparing for rising demand," Tino Fritsch, a spokesman for SGL, said.
BMW and SGL are investing more than 100 million euros ($137 million) to double carbon fiber production to 6,000 tons a year, Handelsblatt said, citing unidentified people close to the company. Schmidt and Fritsch declined to provide exact figures for the increase.
BMW Group is the second-largest shareholder in SGL, with a 18.4 percent stake in the company. SGL's largest individual shareholder is Susanne Klatten's investment company SKion GmbH, which has a stake of about 28 percent in the supplier. Klatten also is part of the Quandt family, which has a 46.7 percent stake in BMW AG.
VW Group has an 8.2 percent share in SGL.