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BMW electric car to be built in Washington


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BMW electric car to be built in Washington



SEATTLE -- Drawn by cheap and sustainable hydropower, a joint venture to manufacture carbon-fiber parts for a new BMW electric car will be built in Moses Lake, the heart of central Washington's potato country.

The long-expected announcement that SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers will build its plant in the town of about 20,000 people came at a news conference Tuesday. The joint venture is backed by BMW Group and SGL Group, Europe's only carbon-fiber manufacturer.

Theodore Breyer, SGL Group's deputy CEO, said it plans to break ground at a 60-acre site in June and is spending $100 million on the first phase of the factory. It initially will employ 80 workers, nearly all from the region, plus support about 200 construction jobs, he said.

The plant is to be operating in time to produce components for BMW's Megacity vehicle, a high-tech electric urban car to be launched before 2015.

"This will be the leading carbon-fiber plant in the world," Breyer said.

The factory will mean "good jobs -- good manufacturing jobs," as Washington works to pull itself out of the recession, Gov. Chris Gregoire said. In addition, "It means that we are going to continue to lead when it comes to a green economy."

The plant will import raw materials from Mitsubishi Rayon in Otake, Japan, and spin them into fibers about one-tenth the width of a human hair. Those fibers are to be turned into fabric at SGL's Wackersdorf, Germany, site, then BMW will build the lightweight components at Landshut, Germany, and send them to the Megacity assembly plant in Leipzig.

Moses Lake, about 150 miles east of Seattle, is the largest town in Grant County, which generates electricity from its two dams on the Columbia River.



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