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BMW i Vision Circular to debut at the 2021 Munich auto show

IAA Mobility 2021

BMW will use its hometown auto show to show off a sustainable concept vehicle. Called the BMW i Vision Circular Concept, this car is a showcase of the brand’s ambitious claims to become a sustainable manufacturer of luxury vehicles. Four themes were used in designing the i Vision Circular Concept: Re: Think, Re: use, and Re: cycle. The goal will be to show that it is possible to make a vehicle using 100 percent secondary or renewable materials and make it completely recyclable. BMW says that climate protection and individual mobility don’t have to contradict each other and to show that the BMW Group can operate sustainably without leaving a massive footprint.

Together with the i Vision Circular Concept, the BMW Group will also use the Munich auto show to highlight its initiatives toward emissions reduction goals. Its upcoming vehicle family, dubbed the Neue Klasse, will be built with sustainability in mind and will make extensive use of renewable materials as the brand focuses on creating a circular economy. The utilization phase of BMW vehicles accounts for 70 percent of the BMW Group’s carbon footprint and the company aims to half that versus 2019 levels by 2030 through the reduction of CO2 emissions per vehicle and kilometer driven. BMW plans to reduce its CO2 emissions by at least 40 percent for each vehicle.

“How companies are dealing with CO2 emissions has become a major factor when it comes to judging corporate action. The decisive factor in the fight against global warming is how strongly we can improve the carbon footprint of vehicles over their entire life span. This is why we are setting ourselves transparent and ambitious goals for the substantial reduction of CO2 emissions; these are validated by the Science Based Targets Initiative and will deliver an effective and measurable contribution,” said Oliver Zipse, Chairman of the Board of Management at BMW Group. “With the Neue Klasse we are significantly sharpening our commitment and also committing ourselves to a clear course for achieving the 1.5-degree target.”

BMW Group was the first German automaker to join the Business Ambition for 1.5°C of the Science Based Targets Initiative and is on track to meet 2030 EU fleet targets. The company is committed to full climate neutrality over its value-added chain by 2050 as its latest target date. Electrification will be key to BMW reaching its emissions goals and plans to put around 10 million electric vehicles on the road. By 2030, at least half of the global BMW Group sales will be EVs. Mini, one of the brands under the BMW Group, will offer only EVs starting in 2030. The company is using the criteria of the Science Based Targets Initiative when measuring worldwide CO2 reduction of its vehicles while they’re being driven on the road. Emissions from the production of fuel or electricity are also included in the calculation while consumption is based on the WLTP cycle plus 10 percent.

Increasing the number of EVs on the road isn’t the solution. BMW Group will go beyond that by reducing the using primary materials that result in harmful exploitation of resources and CO2-heavy processing, especially in the manufacturing process. “2017 was the first time the world’s population consumed more than 100 billion tons of resources within a single year — a trend which we in the automotive industry must also counteract,” said Zipse. “This is a strategic issue, concerning not only ecological but also economic sustainability; the current development of commodity prices demonstrates the impact an industry that is dependent on limited resources must expect.”

The increase in battery production for EVs means demand for cobalt, nickel, and aluminum also goes up. BMW intends to use a circular economy to close the loop and reuse these components for battery packs that are at the end of their life cycle. The company claims that it’s possible to achieve a recycling efficiency of 90 percent. Its new iX crossover uses a battery that has nickel and aluminum content that is 50 percent and 30 percent recycled respectively. BMW expects that percentage to grow even higher in future vehicles, which will also lead to lower emissions because processing them isn’t as CO2-intensive.

BMW has joined the Responsible Mineral Initiative to counteract the risk of infringing on environmental and social standards in addition to minimizing its use of primary materials. It will also cooperate with the BASF and ALBA Group to increase the recycling of plastics used in cars. As part of its circular economy, BMW will try to extract materials in their purest form early in the recycling process to guarantee the high quality of renewable components. This must be done so that the pieces don’t lose their essential properties, which are necessary to meet high safety requirements in the automotive industry. Eventually, more car interiors will use what BMW calls monomaterials so they can be turned into usable material again.

BMW upcoming EVs, the iX and i4, will be among the first to make extensive use of renewable materials. We’ll be getting a preview of what the future of BMW vehicles will look like thanks to the i Vision Circular Concept, which will make extensive use of renewable materials. In addition to battery-electric vehicles, BMW is also working on hydrogen fuel cell technology and will show the prototype at the 2021 Munich auto show.

Written by Stefan Ogbac
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