BMW AG plans to begin high-volume production of carbon fiber parts in two years, which could make it the first automaker to move beyond limited-edition use of the exotic material.
In 2013, BMW will start building the i3 electric car, a vehicle that features a passenger cell -- the protective shell around the passenger compartment that ensures the integrity of the vehicle in a crash -- made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic.
BMW will produce about 30,000 a year, based on estimates from Automotive News Europe.
BMW declined to confirm the i3's likely production volume. But Joerg Pohlman, managing director of the joint venture that produces BMW's carbon fiber, said the automaker can produce tens of thousands of vehicles.
"We have developed a very flexible production plan," Pohlman said in a telephone interview. "We are prepared to manufacture many more cars if demand is higher than our conservative estimate."
If so, the i3 will be a major breakthrough: a carbon fiber-intensive vehicle produced in volume at a moderate price.