AD #1375 – BMW Expands Carbon Fiber Production, Tesla & Toyota Split? VW Design Contest

May 12th, 2014 at 11:49am

Runtime: 7:26

- BMW Expands Carbon Fiber Production
- BMW Develops Solar Carport
- Tesla & Toyota Split?
- Hyundai Boosts Tucson Production
- Volkswagen Holds Design Contest
- What Driving 255 MPH Feels Like
- Ward’s 6th Annual Interior Conference

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Welcome to Autoline Daily, I’m Drew Winter from Wards Auto World filling in for John with a special announcement coming up. But first let’s get to the news…

BMW announced it’s going to beef up its carbon fiber production. The German automaker and its joint venture partner, SGL Group, will invest $200 million dollars to expand their plant in Moses Lake, Washington by early next year. Once the expansion is complete, the site will be the largest carbon fiber plant in the world, with the capacity to produce 9,000 tons of the lightweight material a year. Currently carbon fiber produced in Washington is only used in the i3 and i8 but BMW plans to use it in other models in the future.

And in other BMW news, the company just introduced a solar carport concept for its electric i3 and plug-in i8. The structure is made of bamboo and carbon fiber. Along with BMW’s home charging station, the carport can show how much solar energy or grid power is used to charge a car. And if the solar panels generate excess energy, it can be used to power the home. The company says it will have more details about the carport at the media launch of the i8 later this month.

And in other EV news, Tesla announced that it’s going to stop supplying batteries to Toyota for its RAV4 EV by the end of the year. In its quarterly earnings report, Tesla revealed that Toyota is expected to phase out the RAV4 EV model this year. However, Bloomberg reports that Toyota hasn’t announced plans to scrap the RAV4 EV program and hasn’t ruled out working with Tesla in the future.

The compact SUV segment is one the hottest in the U.S. So in order to keep up with demand, the Detroit News reports that Hyundai plans to double the amount of Tucson’s it ships to the American market from 45,000 to 90,000. The company has deliberately restrained production over the last several years, in order to not sacrifice quality for sales.

Dominos Pizza crowdsourced the design of a future delivery vehicle, Infiniti reached out to budding engineers to join its Performance Academy and now Volkswagen is looking for students to help it design a exciting car for a video game. The automaker is looking for students from the design field to submit concepts that still retain the character of a Volkswagen. Three designs will be chosen by Volkswagen’s head of design along with his management team. Those winners will get a 6-month internship in the Volkswagen Design department in Wolfsburg, Germany. The contest started on May 5th, but it runs to the 15th of August. Just click the link in today’s show notes to get all the details.

Coming up next, what it’s like being behind the wheel of a dragster racecar.

On last week’s Autoline After Hours, John and Gary were joined by the Gutierrez Brothers Racing team who compete in the NHRA Top Alcohol drag racing series. In the following clip, driver JP Gutierrez explains what’s it like inside the cockpit of a dragster racecar.

(The AAH preview is only available in the video version of today’s show.)

Wow it’s hard to believe they were able to squeeze that dragster in the studio.

Autoline was kind enough to give me a couple seconds here to plug our 6th annual Interiors Conference coming up next Wednesday, May 21st here in the Detroit area. And if you like auto interiors…want to know what’s going on now…or what’s coming up in the future then this is where you’ll want to be. It’s a day-long event filled with experts talking about innovative materials, the HMI, the future of luxury and much more. And when you’re talking interiors you can’t have many better keynote speakers than General Motor’s Design guru Ed Welburn and Chrysler’s interior wizard Klaus Busse. All that plus an opportunity to personally check out our Best Interiors award-winners like the Rolls Royce Wraith which will all be on site.

So if you’d like to join us please go to for any and all information. Again that’s Wednesday, May 21st for the 6th annual Ward’s Auto Interior Conference.

And that wraps up today’s Autoline DAILY. I’m Drew Winter from Wards Auto World. Have a great day.

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog

11 Comments to “AD #1375 – BMW Expands Carbon Fiber Production, Tesla & Toyota Split? VW Design Contest”

  1. Mike Says:

    It is interesting to hear Hyundai equate quality with low production numbers. In a car tooled for mass production, there should really be no variance that allows “craftsmanship” to affect line production quality. Maybe this would make sense in relation to Rolls Royce, but not Hyundai or any other mass production outfit. Is there something else going on here? Like maybe a sensitivity to Made in USA versus “Imported” ?

  2. pedro fernandez Says:

    There is evidence that rushing the line has caused quality issue before, perhaps not as much now due to the extensive use of robots doing the most mundane tasks, but if you rush the line, human error will be an issue. I am thinking of Toyota adding more production to the Kentucky plant where they build so many variants of the Camry platform

  3. Bradley Says:

    VW Contest – Cool!

    Lexus held one for the Lexus IS on its premier release back in early 2000. It was designing a commercial for it using a bunch of media, etc. They had a website for you to use.

    They wanted originality, etc, but the winner was very cliche.

  4. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The first Lexus IS was better than the later ones, especially the SportCross hatch that was kind of cool.

  5. pedro fernandez Says:

    I wish car makers would realize that bigger does not mean better all the time, did you check out the Youtube video of Leno driving his new Mc Laren P1? that lucky SOB! must have been his farewell present from the Tonight Show retirement. honestly as much as I like cars, I just cannot see the point of owning so many of them, there is just not enough time to truly enjoy them all.

  6. cwolf Says:

    I don’t think there have been more time studys performed than on the assembly line and the pace has become pretty much well defined for every make and model. Hyundai’s is probably painting a rosey marketing picture than telling the real reason. Slowing a line down adds to the vehicle over-all cost. So does anyone really believe the retail price will become less and the quality maintained/sustained as the output doubles?

  7. C-Tech Says:

    Amen Cwolf

  8. jesse Says:

    I find it odd that Hyundai is increasing the TUCSON output.I sold Hyundai’s for 15 years,until this past January ’14, and the TUCSON was never really one of those Hyundai’s that flew off the lot or even sold on a pretty regular basis.I mean,we sold them,but in comparison to other Hyundai’s they were on the low end of the sale scale.When the SANTA FE debuted in 2001 I had a 3 month waiting list for quite some time…that never happened with the Tucson.It’s a fairly nice little SUV but it’s not anything dramatically different then any other small SUV in it’s segment.In my opinion as a former salesman of the vehicle and also,more importantly,a consumer out here, I think it leaves a lot of room for improvement…it’s not a bad vehicle at all,don’t get me wrong, it just isn’t up to the competition quite yet as well as it could be…

  9. jesse Says:

    On a side note,I STOPPED BY MY OLD PLACE OF EMPLOYMENT and took a peak at the newly redesigned AWD Hyundai Genesis.Man, what a nice car!!!Loaded to the gills.It had that LUXURY CAR SMELL that I hadn’t noticed before in any other Hyundai.EVER!

  10. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Isn’t the Tucson the same as the Kia Sportage? Maybe Kia sells more of the smaller one, and Hyundai sells more the the larger Sante Fe.

  11. Kit Gerhart Says:

    By all indications, the new Genesis is very nice, but still, I’d probably rather have a year-old E-Class for the same money. Now, if Hyundai would make a Genesis wagon, without mandatory AWD, they would have a leg up on Mercedes and BMW in the U.S.