Cleaner, greener BMW readies its EV onslaught

Luxury car maker launches strategy to reduce CO2 emissions.

BMW has announced a new strategic direction aimed at delivering major CO2 reductions and rapidly increasing the number of electric vehicles in its fleet by 2030.

A statement from the Bavarian luxury car maker said it would aim to reduce CO2 emissions from its vehicles by 40% per kilometre by 2030, thanks to a massive expansion of e-mobility. 

In total, the company aims to have more than seven million electrified vehicles on the roads by 2030 – around two thirds of them with a fully electric drive train.

The plans include five fully electric production vehicles on the market by the end of 2021, in the form of the BMW i3, Mini Cooper SE, BMW iX3, BMW iNext and BMW i4. 

BMW also announced its next-generation flagship 7 Series limousine would be available with four different drivetrain technologies: efficient petrol and diesel engines with 48-volt mild-hybrid assistance; a plug-in hybrid (PHEV); and, for the first time, as a fully battery electric model. 

Other high-volume models including the BMW X1 SUV and BMW 5 Series sedan will adopt a similar drivetrain strategy, with the company aiming to have a total of 25 electrified models on the road by 2023 – half of them fully electric. 

BMW said it would also begin utilising its vehicles’ extensive connectivity to increase the amount of electric driving by plug-in hybrids.

BMQ i3 Urban

Models with what it calls “eDrive Zones” technology automatically switch to pure electric mode as soon as they enter a pre-defined green zone in about 80 European cities already. 

The company said that as availability expanded to more countries and cities it would be possible to increase the amount of electric driving by plug-in hybrids in a growing number of city areas.

“The best vehicles in the world are sustainable. That is why premium and sustainability will be even more inextricably linked in the future,” said the company’s Chairman of the Board of Management Oliver Zipse.

“We are using our exceptional technological expertise in both hardware and software not only to make these vehicles desirable, but also to help reduce CO2 through them.”

As part of the new strategy the Bavarian luxury car maker has also set clear targets for CO2 reduction up to 2030.

For the first time, these extend throughout the entire vehicle lifecycle: from the supply chain through production to when the car is junked. The aim is to significantly reduce CO2 emissions per vehicle by at least one third. 

A statement from the company said for a fleet of about 2.5 million vehicles, as produced by the BMW Group in 2019, this would correspond to a reduction of more than 40 million tonnes of CO2 over the lifecycle in 2030.

“As a premium car company, it is our ambition to lead the way in sustainability,” Mr Zipse said.

BMW i3 at charging station

“That is why we are taking responsibility here and now and making these issues central to our future strategic direction.

“We have made a very clear commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement. With this new strategic direction, we are therefore setting a course that is in accordance with the ‘well below two-degrees target’. 

“We are not just making abstract statements – we have developed a detailed 10-year plan with annual interim goals for the timeframe up to 2030.”

The new strategy includes major emission reduction for BMW’s own manufacturing plants, which generate around 90% of the company’s Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions. 

Having already lowered emissions per vehicle produced by more than 70% since 2006, BMW says it is now targeting the biggest reductions industry-wide in this area by 2030, meaning a further 80% reduction in emissions generation from 2019 levels by 2030.

Included in the changes are the sourcing of 100% green power, greater use of data analytics to make production more efficient by minimising waste and employing predictive maintenance, and the use of “green hydrogen” at suitable BMW Group locations. The company also plans to fully offset its remaining CO2 emissions from 2021 on with appropriate certificates.

BMW’s supply chain is also included in the new strategy, with concrete CO2 targets for its 12,000 Tier 1 partners worldwide. 

This includes looking at the energy-intensive production of high-voltage batteries, which the company noted could result in an increase of CO2 emissions per vehicle without corrective measures. The company said it would now be defining a supplier’s carbon footprint as a decision criterion in its contract award processes.

Generic photo of electric vehicle

“CO2 must be reduced in partnership between manufacturers and suppliers,” Mr Zipse said.

“If you want to convince partners, you must act as a role model. Our aim is to ensure the most sustainable supply chain in the entire industry.” 

Alongside lowering CO2 emissions, the company is also looking at resource management playing a central role in the new strategy.

By making the recycling chain more transparent, BMW says it aims to create high-quality secondary material and enable itself to track actual further use of raw materials in the cycle.

“Our goal is clear: We want to further close the material cycles to protect nature’s finite resources and use them even more efficiently,” Mr Zipse said.

BMW vehicles already have to be 95% recyclable – but the percentage of secondary material in new vehicles is still relatively low, which is why the company plans to increase the share of secondary material in its vehicles significantly by 2030. 

This is especially important with high-voltage batteries for electrified vehicles, which use a number of critical raw materials. 

The European Union currently requires a recycling rate of 50% for high-voltage batteries, but BMW says it has partnered with a German recycling specialist to develop a method that can achieve a recycling rate of up to 96%.