The future of transportation is electromobility and this includes Electric Vehicles to a significant degree. It is the era of which vehicle is more sustainable than the other.
In the race towards gaining a piece of the electromobility market share pie, century old and innovative car manufacturer, BMW has recently started production of a flashy Electric Vehicle called the i-Series i.e., i3, i4 or the iX. Along with its looks, is this vehicle series truly sustainable?
Two eDrive engines using highly integrated electric motors and transmission make up the powerhouse of the M50 version of the BMW i4. This contributes to the zero emission during use and operation. Its wheels are made of 19” M light alloy with sport tyres. Light alloy wheels are usually made of aluminium and nickel which are energy intensive to produce yet easily recyclable. An EV is not complete without an energy source. In this case, it is a battery and consists of hundreds of lithium cells which are obtained from hard rock deposits in Australia with due consideration for sustainability. Its extraction and processing are said to be done under the right environmental and human right standards. The body is made of considerable aluminium, carbon fibre and glass as the interior is made of leather which are ethically sourced and most recyclable. The interior uses 25% renewable raw materials and plastic with door trim panels and dashboard made from renewable natural fibres, leathers naturally tanned with olive leaf by-products.
The i4 is made from BMW’s century old factory which was retrofitted and upgraded with about 200 million Euros. This upgrade meant automated manufacturing processes, using only 100% green energy in producing battery cells, and use of reverse osmosis to drastically reduce water usage by about six million litres. Their manufacturing factory is based in Germany and serves customers across the world which means emissions from heavy transportation of these cars to the final sales. In terms of distribution and logistics, the company plans to be emission free in a few years. Its production faction uses recycled materials running only on renewable wind power and using 70% less water. BMW does a good job of lifecycle consideration of batteries from extraction, production to reuse. For example, batteries are reused for stationary storage systems in its Leipzig factory. In terms of supply chain, BMW establishes a carbon-dioxide footprint in a carbon disclosure project for its supplies and sources for recyclates and renewable raw materials. To meet environmental standards for extraction of cobalt, the company developed sustainability tools in projects like ‘Cobalt for Development’.
As the company released the i4 in the last quarter of 2022, it has also put in some measures for sustainability by committing to have zero carbon footprint from its vehicles by 2030. The creative and innovative car manufacturer is recognised as the world’s most sustainable automobile manufacturer since 2005 by Dow Jones Sustainability Index reducing both energy and water consumption. The company is also looking into hydrogen as a sustainable energy and fuel source. Responsible procurement, resource reduction, renewable energy and reusable materials are top priorities for BMW. The UK arm of BMW partners with Off Grid Energy for second-life use of batteries extending time before decommissioning or recycling. The company also initiated a process of take backs for vehicles that reach end of life. Generally, BMW is doing quite well as it aims to reduce carbon emissions significantly by 2030.
Caveat: This review is based on the information available in the public domain. This may understate or overstate actual figures and facts of the company’s contributions to greenhouse gas emissions. To make an informed decision for your project, service, or purchase, kindly acquire more information directly from the company.
Autoweek – 5 Things to Know about the BMW i4. https://www.autoweek.com/news/green-cars/g36661856/5-things-to-know-about-the-bmw-i4/
BMW – Driving Sustainability. https://www.bmw.co.uk/en/topics/discover/electromobility/sustainability.html
BMW – Emission-Free into the Future. Sustainability and BMW i. https://www.bmw.ie/en/topics/fascination-bmw/bmw-i/sustainability.html
BMW – The Story of BMW i. https://i-brochures.bmw.co.uk/i4/introduction/overlay/story-of-i/
Over 200 million tonnes: BMW Group sets ambitious goal to reduce CO2 emissions by 2030. https://www.press.bmwgroup.com/global/article/detail/T0332273EN/over-200-million-tonnes:-bmw-group-sets-ambitious-goal-to-reduce-co2-emissions-by-2030?language=en
Revolution, not evolution: BMW Group to reduce carbon footprint significantly by 2030 using innovative materials. https://www.press.bmwgroup.com/global/article/detail/T0341416EN/revolution-not-evolution:-bmw-group-to-reduce-carbon-footprint-significantly-by-2030-using-innovative-materials
Top Gear – BMW i4 review. https://www.topgear.com/car-reviews/bmw/i4
The first-ever BMW i4. https://www.press.bmwgroup.com/global/article/detail/T0333329EN/the-first-ever-bmw-i4?language=en
This is how the BMW i4 is being built at the Munich Plant. https://www.bmwblog.com/2021/10/24/this-is-how-the-bmw-i4-is-being-built-at-the-munich-plant/