A new understanding of mobility
The world, and with it the sphere of personal mobility, is experiencing a period of radical environmental, economic and social change. A rash of global developments such as climate change, the dwindling availability of resources and increasing urbanisation call for a new balance between the demands of the planet and the desires of the individual. Fresh solutions are required to underpin personal and, most importantly, sustainable mobility. The BMW Group has responded to this situation with the creation of a sub-brand which meets the changing needs of customers head-on: BMW i.
BMW i is about the development of visionary vehicles and mobility services, inspiring design, and a new understanding of premium that is strongly defined by sustainability. With BMW i the BMW Group is adopting an all-embracing approach, redefining the understanding of personal mobility with purpose-built vehicle concepts, a focus on sustainability throughout the value chain and a range of complementary mobility services. In so doing, BMW i is also opening up new target groups for BMW and further strengthening the position of its parent company as a sustainable and future-oriented brand.
“The purpose-oriented and sustainable mobility solutions from BMW i mark the dawn of a new era in personal mobility for the automotive industry.” (Ian Robertson, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for Sales and Marketing)
Project i – how BMW i was born
The BMW i brand world comprises vehicles and services developed since 2007 as part of project i, a BMW Group think tank set up to explore sustainable mobility solutions. Launched under the banner of the corporate strategy Number ONE, project i was charged with developing sustainable and pioneering mobility concepts. The intention of the initiative was always to generate a transfer of expertise into both the company as a whole and future vehicle projects specifically. The overriding goal of project i is to preserve the BMW Group’s position as the leading supplier of premium products and services for personal mobility in the future as well. To this end, the development engineers involved have always focused their attentions on the entire value chain. After all, it is not only the products of the future that should be sustainable; every parts-related process, every technology and every supplier is required to contribute to the positive sustainability rating of the products.
As part of project i the BMW Group is currently conducting field trials in everyday conditions with vehicles running purely on electric power. These trials are unparalleled worldwide in their scope. The ongoing trials in the USA and Europe with a fleet of more than 600 MINI E cars are already delivering important feedback on the demands the series-produced electric vehicles of the future will need to meet. Added to which, a test fleet of over 1,000 BMW ActiveE vehicles – set for launch in the USA, Europe and China at the end of 2011 – will contribute valuable insights into the performance of these models in everyday use. The information gained will serve to deepen the existing knowledge base on the everyday use of vehicles with electric drive systems and to find out more about what customers want and need. Feedback from the customers trialling the MINI E and BMW ActiveE is channelled directly into the series development of the BMW i vehicles.
Two special vehicle concepts.
The BMW i brand is now poised to enter the consciousness of the automotive public with two new vehicles. First up is the BMW i3 Concept. Previously known as the Megacity Vehicle, the BMW Group’s first series-produced all-electric car focuses squarely on the mobility challenges of the future in urban areas and, as the first premium electric vehicle, reinvents hallmark BMW attributes for the drivers of the future. Then comes the BMW i8 Concept, a sports car of the most contemporary variety – forward-looking, intelligent and innovative. Based on the BMW Vision EfficientDynamics concept car, its unique plug-in hybrid solution brings together a combustion engine and an electric drive system to create an extraordinary driving experience complemented by extremely low fuel consumption and emissions.
BMW i thinks beyond the vehicle.
An additional range of mobility services – which can also be used independently of the cars – will be an integral component of BMW i alongside the vehicles themselves. This should allow the creation of a new, profitable area of business over the long term and attract new customers to the company’s brands. A totally new development in this area will be vehicle-independent mobility services. These will allow BMW i to offer bespoke mobility solutions representing a perfect combination of premium vehicles and premium services. The focus is on solutions which will improve usage of existing parking spaces, as well as intelligent navigation systems with local information, intermodal route planning and premium car-sharing. In addition to service packages developed in-house, the BMW Group is pursuing cooperations with partner companies as well as strategic capital investments with providers of mobility services. BMW i Ventures was established with this purpose in mind. The company aims to expand the product portfolio of BMW i over the long term with stakes in highly innovative service providers, such as MyCityWay and ParkatmyHouse.
Purpose-built design – the LifeDrive concept.
The construction of electric vehicles has, up to now, been based on the “conversion” approach. This involves integrating electric components into vehicles originally designed to be powered by a combustion engine, as in the case of the MINI E and BMW ActiveE test cars. However, this form of automotive electrification involves making complex modifications throughout the vehicle and therefore increasing its weight considerably. That is because the electric drive components place totally different demands on a vehicle when it comes to installation space and cannot be integrated into that vehicle without adding weight and compromising interior and boot space. Conversion cars thus do not represent the best long-term response to the challenge of e-mobility. The BMW Group engineers took a different approach, focusing squarely on the eventual usage of the BMW i vehicles in developing the LifeDrive concept. This new vehicle architecture meets the full range of technical requirements of an electric drive system (including a large battery), while keeping weight low, maximising range, creating generous levels of space, enabling supreme driving characteristics, and ensuring impressive safety for the battery and passengers alike.
In contrast to vehicles with a self-supporting body, the LifeDrive concept essentially comprises two separate, independent functional units. The Drive module integrates the vehicle’s suspension, battery, drive system, and structural and crash functions into a construction made chiefly from aluminium. Its partner, the Life module, consists primarily of a high-strength and extremely lightweight passenger cell made from carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP). The use of this high-tech material across large sections of the car ensures that the Life module is remarkably light and, in so doing, helps to achieve both impressive range and improved performance. Added to which, the car’s handling is also much enhanced, and the functional connection between the Drive module and the torsionally rigid Life module lends it a very distinctive dynamic character. The use of CFRP on this scale is unprecedented. Indeed, with the creation of its LifeDrive architecture the BMW Group has taken lightweight design, vehicle architecture and crash safety into a whole new dimension. By avoiding the need for modifications to accommodate the electric drive components, the LifeDrive architecture ensures the car is no heavier than a conversion vehicle of similar size. Intelligent lightweight design and the innovative use of materials allows the LifeDrive architecture to cancel out all the extra weight added by giving the car an electric drive train rather than a comparable combustion engine.
Another special feature of the BMW i3 Concept and BMW i8 Concept are their wheels, which are noticeably larger and narrower than those of their class rivals. Slimmer tyres generate far less drag and rolling resistance, reduce unsprung masses and, in so doing, allow the cars to travel further on a single charge and use less energy.
Lightweight and safe.
Equally impressive as the vehicle architecture’s benefits in terms of weight and handling is its performance in crash tests. Here again, the combination of the aluminium in the Drive module and the Life module’s CFRP passenger cell demonstrates just how well lightweight design and safety can go together. Like the cockpit of a Formula One car, the CFRP passenger cell provides an extremely strong survival area. Pole impacts, side-on collisions and rollover tests highlight the impressive safety-enhancing properties of this extraordinarily robust material. While metal constructions require the addition of large energy absorption zones, special deformation elements in the CFRP structure allow large amounts of energy to be absorbed in an amazingly small area. Despite the heavy and sometimes concentrated forces, the material barely sustains a dent. Together, the high-strength CFRP passenger cell and intelligent distribution of forces through the LifeDrive module lay the foundations for optimum protection for the car’s occupants and battery alike.
Intelligent lightweight design.
Systematic lightweight design is a particularly important element of electrically-powered vehicles. An electric drive system (incl. battery) tips the scales at up to 200 kg heavier than a comparable combustion engine and full tank of fuel. And high vehicle weight is a major factor – alongside battery capacity –in restricting how far an electric car can travel on a single charge. As well as increasing such a vehicle’s range, lower vehicle weight is also a ticket to noticeably improved performance. After all, a lightweight vehicle accelerates faster, is more agile through corners and brakes to a standstill more quickly. Lightweight design therefore paves the way for greater driving pleasure, agility and safety. In addition, lower accelerated mass means that energy-absorbing crash structures can be scaled back – and that, in turn, saves weight. The aim of the development engineers was therefore to achieve the electrification/hybridisation of the vehicles without adding weight. Alongside the innovative LifeDrive architecture, other aspects central to the BMW Group’s success in cancelling out the extra weight of the electric components were systematic lightweight design and the innovative use of materials.
“The LifeDrive concept avoids the additional weight involved in making the necessary modifications to conversion concepts. At the same time, in both vehicles we’ve been able to cancel out all of the extra kilos added by the electric motor(s) through the innovative use of materials and intelligent lightweight design.” (Bernhard Dressler, Responsible for bodywork and equipment at project i)
The various components within a vehicle’s structure have to deal with an extremely wide range of demands, which can only be addressed to full effect by a variety of construction methods. For each component, the BMW Group engineers therefore select the material to fit its usage profile and the demands placed on it, so that battery weight is no longer an issue. In order to meet the engineers’ ambitious aims, every component has been rigorously developed, examined and, if necessary, modified to optimise its functional effectiveness and minimise weight. Designing the components specifically for their particular purpose ensures the vehicles work as well and weigh as little as possible. CFRP plays a major role in reducing weight. The extensive use of this material – e.g. in the Life module of the BMW i3 Concept and BMW i8 Concept – is unprecedented in volume vehicle production. CFRP is at least as strong as steel, but roughly 50 per cent lighter. By comparison, aluminium would save “only” 30 per cent in weight over steel. All of which makes CFRP the lightest material available for vehicle body construction which does not compromise safety.
As well as “conventional” CFRP components made from resinated carbon fibre weave, in some areas the BMW i8 Concept also contains specially woven CFRP structures known as “braided profiles”. Here, CFRP preforms are woven like a sock over a mould. This allows much greater design freedom, and fewer joints are required. Flush-fitting connections also make the profiles extremely strong. The braided profiles are therefore used in areas – such as the door sills, doors and A-pillars – in which greater strength is required, not least in the event of a collision. The special manufacturing process involved makes it extremely easy to optimise wall thickness (by adjusting the diameter of the mould). Much more complex forms can also be achieved without bonding or the use of connecting pieces and, most importantly, produce far fewer waste cuttings. Lower material usage also reduces the energy requirement.
BMW i embodies the creation of visionary vehicles and a new understanding of premium mobility underpinned by sustainability. This can be seen and experienced in the inspirational design of BMW i vehicles.
“The design makes the customer a promise of quality that the product experience then keeps. The design of a vehicle shows customers at first glance what they will experience once they get behind the wheel.” (Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design )
The task for the designers was to develop a unique design language for BMW i which would reflect the new sub-brand’s claims and values and include scope for expansion, but which would also maintain a strong link to its parent brand. The aim was to create an authentic visual representation of innovative technology and to translate values such as lightness, safety and efficiency into the BMW i3 Concept and BMW i8 Concept models. These basic values are expressed in the design of the vehicles through features including large transparent surfaces and a light-bathed interior, a powerful stance and aerodynamic additions such as contact surfaces, spoiler lips and elements allowing air through-flow. The BMW i3 Concept and BMW i8 Concept also blend in their own interpretation of familiar BMW design features, cementing a clear link to the BMW parent brand.
An overview of hallmark BMW i design features.
The BMW i badge.
BMW i is the embodiment of “next premium”, which extends the idea of premium to encompass future requirements. To this end, a three-dimensional blue ring has been added to the outside of the BMW badge for BMW i. Here, the colour blue fulfils two functions. On the one hand it has a traditional association with the BMW badge, but it is also familiar from concepts such as Efficient Dynamics, clean drive systems and zero emissions. The BMW i badge therefore creates a stylistic link between the parent brand and its claim to expansion while giving the sub-brand’s story the perfect visual headline.
The BMW i logo.
The BMW i logo was developed by BMW Design on the basis of an idea born within the walls of BMW Group DesignworksUSA. The design of the logo accurately conveys the sub-brand’s character. “i” is the smallest letter in the alphabet, but the logo’s designers have given it a little extra presence by framing it as a transparent cutout. This fits in rather neatly with the ideas of openness and transparency underpinning BMW i; customers can see and explore the theme of sustainability in all aspects of the sub-brand, its logo included.
BMW i design features at the front end.
The kidney-shaped radiator grille is a signature design feature of the BMW brand. And as such, it is also a fixture in the front of BMW i vehicles. The sub-brand’s models come with a stylistically modified and strikingly individual update on the kidney grille theme, and add a blue background to the design. The innovative drive concept of the BMW i vehicles removes the need for large cooling air intakes at the front, and the grille area is therefore shielded off. The distinctively shaped LED headlights at the outer edges of the front end redefine BMW light design. Along with the strikingly revised kidney grille, the LED-backlit U-shaped lines form an important part of the eye-catching new BMW i face. The minimalist interpretation of the front end highlights the efficiency and lightness of the vehicles and lends them an appearance all of their own.
The stream flow.
The aerodynamically optimised “stream flow” represents one of the most striking design themes of the BMW i vehicles. Like the Hofmeister kink favoured by its parent brand, this new C-pillar treatment can be viewed as a signature styling cue. Two horizontal lines converge from above and below – like streaks of air in the wind tunnel – into a dynamic C-pillar sweep, lending visual form to the efficient aerodynamics of the BMW i vehicles.
BMW i design features at the rear.
BMW i also introduces a fresh take on the classically BMW L-shaped tail lights. Their new design maintains a clear association with the parent brand, yet at the same time gives the rear its own individual presence. The distinctive tail lights make a clear statement of BMW i family membership – during the day or night.
The design language of the BMW i concept cars.
The most defining element of the BMW i models is their purpose-built basic construction, the LifeDrive architecture. Within this concept, the CFRP Life module houses the passenger compartment, while the Drive module brings together all the operational driving functions. This distinctive two-way split is also reflected in the design of the cars. The modules are partly covered by side panels, but remain clearly distinguishable. Expressive surfaces and precise lines form a harmonious transition between the two. This overlap and interlocking of surfaces and lines – “layering” in BMW i speak – marks out the exterior and interior design of both vehicles. The striking interplay of lines and surfaces highlights the linking together of the individual structures and their arrangement within the framework of the LifeDrive architecture. Added to which, the different functions of the layers are colour-coded. The silver external panelling makes up the outward-facing level, while the black function layer of the exterior contains the windows, basic structure and supporting elements. In between, surfaces in bright Stream Blue – the colour used for the BMW i logo – lend high-quality touches. The various levels are set apart from each other clearly, the lower layers also performing certain functions, such as air channelling. The perceptible difference in height between the layers lends the exterior an extremely dynamic, three-dimensional appearance. The Life modules of both concept cars come across as bright and open thanks to their large, transparent surfaces. This high degree of transparency imbues them with an airy feel and – together with the generous portions of exposed CFRP on display – reflect the lightness and efficiency of both vehicles. A transparent roof opens both vehicles to the sky and generates a very open driving feeling. This reveals the intricate CFRP structure of the roof, adding further emphasis to the lightweight design concept of the two vehicles. The generously-sized glass surfaces give an optimum view out of the cars and allow the passengers inside to experience the outside world while on the move. At the same time, admirers on the outside can also see clearly into the cars, effectively turning their interior into part of the exterior design.
Aerodynamics and design.
Aerodynamics are an important element of efficient mobility and therefore of BMW i. Indeed, they play a key role in giving the BMW i cars their lower fuel consumption and impressive range. The importance of aerodynamics is also reflected in the two models’ exterior design. The “stream flow” – the striking transition of the greenhouse into the C-pillar – is a nod to the vehicles’ efficient aerodynamics and imbues the side view of the cars with an extra dose of dynamism. The aerodynamic form of the stream flow on the BMW i8 Concept significantly improves its aerodynamic efficiency; integrated into the BMW i3 Concept it improves all-round visibility. Meanwhile, the underbody of the two vehicles is totally enclosed and has a smooth surface to counteract the under-car turbulence that would otherwise push up fuel consumption. Moving further back, the structures above the tail lights and the large air outlets underline the reduction in drag achieved over the vehicle as a whole. Another stand-out feature of the BMW i vehicles are the conspicuously large and relatively narrow wheels. In addition to significantly lower drag, these wheels also give the cars a very solid and dynamic appearance. Other aerodynamic elements include the AirCurtains, which ensure optimum air flow around the wheel arches, and the aeroflaps in the door sill area behind the front wheels. Both solutions reduce the cars’ drag substantially, and in so doing increase their efficiency – and therefore their range when running on electric power alone.
Bringing the outside in – layering and free forms in the interior.
As with the exterior, the design principle of layering – the interplay of powerfully expressive surfaces across several levels, defined by precise lines – is also at work in the interior. The interior consists of three different levels, which allow a range of functions to operate and shape the way in which they do so. The three layers have different colours to indicate which functions they accommodate. The layering concept from the car’s outer skin therefore continues inside and highlights the shared design elements of the interior and exterior. The outer level – the white layer – forms the supporting structure for all interior geometries. The elements it contains give the impression of almost being folded, exude a feeling of lightness and yet are very strong. The inner layer is the function-oriented level and opens up features such as seat surfaces and storage areas. The instrument panel includes an additional black level between the inner and outer layer, which incorporates the technical components. This technical layer runs through the whole front section of the interior and also creates a visual link between the instrument panel, steering column and steering wheel (including instrument cluster), central information display (CID) and controls. Positioned here are features including the openings for the air vents, while the displays and radio/climate control panel also develop out of this layer.
Exterior and interior united.
All in all, the exterior and interior of the two vehicles paint an extremely harmonious picture. The designers worked very closely together during the design process, and consequently the exterior and interior have much in common. Open the door and the boundaries of the interior and exterior begin to blur in the interplay of surfaces, for example, creating harmonious connections between the vehicle areas. The surfaces of the exterior and interior melt into one another in the clearly designed entry area. And when you close the door again it is still possible to see through these surfaces onto – or, more precisely, into – the interior.
Another element that brings together the inside and outside of the cars is the partly visible carbon frame. Opening the doors reveals the frame and creates a link between the interior and exterior. The CFRP possesses a highly functional appearance in both vehicles, with the composition and structure of the relevant parts clearly exposed. In contrast to the exposed carbon components with three-dimensional web structure familiar elsewhere, here you can see the load-bearing, two-dimensional weave of the CFRP preforms.
The colours and materials concept creates another link between the vehicles – and between their exteriors and interiors. The dominant colours of the exterior are the Silver Flow shade of light silver and High-gloss Black. The slightly blue-tinged, bright silver colour tone shows off the vehicles’ technical, modern exterior design extremely effectively and presents a clear contrast against the black-painted surfaces. It gives a feeling of motion, adds contours to the expressive surfaces and lends the vehicles an impressive visual depth. Contrasting touches in bright, forceful Stream Blue bring the efficiency of the vehicles (inside and out) stylistically to life. Externally this colour can also be found in the logo, the kidney grille, door sills and rear apron. Together the various shades produce an extremely high-class exterior impression, maximising the impact of high-gloss surfaces and the contrast of black, silver and blue. The glass surfaces further highlight this contrast.
Applied more discreetly in the interior, Stream Blue glows subtly from the logo in the steering wheel, the seats, and between the leather surfaces and structural layers of the steering wheel, as well as from the indicators and displays. The blue double-stitching on the seats packs a considerable visual impact, divides the seats stylistically into their different sections and creates an effective transition from the backrests to the doors. The colours of the interior paint a far warmer picture and therefore create a pleasant contrast to the technical cool of the exterior. The plastic layer structures in Porcelain White and the warm dark brown leather colour tone Mocha Brown conjure up a modern yet cosy ambience. The soft, exquisite leather has been naturally tanned without an additive in sight. However, it is also used extremely sparingly in the interior of the two vehicles, only covering those areas which will see direct contact with passengers – such as the seats and inner sections of the instrument panel.
BMW i and sustainability.
“In future, the definition of premium quality will also come to include sustainability. And we are on a clear path to sustainable mobility.” (Dr Norbert Reithofer, Chairman of the Board of Management of the BMW Group.)
Sustainability has played a defining role in the BMW Group’s strategy and operations ever since the early 1970s. Since that time, many production processes have been optimised and many innovative technology packages incorporated into the company’s vehicles, which have significantly reduced emissions both during the manufacturing process and during the useful life of the vehicle. But sustainability is not confined solely to environmental issues. The BMW Group addresses all three dimensions of sustainability: environmental, economic and social. On sustainability, the BMW Group’s strategic action areas not only include reducing emissions but also ensuring sustainable innovation and growth, shaping the future and gaining access to new technologies and customers. In all of this, our employees play a key part. It is their passion and expertise which pave the way for groundbreaking innovations. Investment in ongoing employee training, equality of opportunity and lifelong learning are therefore an important priority for the BMW Group. The Group is also committed to promoting health and to cultural and intercultural development both inside and outside the company. Just how successful the BMW Group has been in its actions to promote sustainability is clear not least from its position in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index: in 2010 the BMW Group headed this ranking list for the sixth time running, making it the most sustainable company in the automotive sector.
For BMW i, sustainability is of pivotal importance. A holistic approach to the issue of sustainability is a defining feature of this sub-brand. BMW i aspires to sustainability throughout the entire value chain. From the earliest strategic and planning stages, therefore, clearly defined sustainability targets were set for the BMW i vehicles. All three sustainability aspects were addressed across the entire spectrum, from purchasing, development and production to sales and marketing.
This process had its beginnings in project i. Employees working for this think tank play an enabling role in the BMW Group’s development of new technologies and processes designed to provide sustainable mobility and to ensure sustainability throughout the value chain. This research work has resulted in an all-electric vehicle based on an innovative architecture, new materials and a completely new production process. This vehicle is the BMW i3 Megacity Vehicle. In their quest for a completely sustainable process, the BMW Group specialists began by looking at the entire vehicle life cycle. They quickly identified potential for reducing environmental impacts and went on to define concrete targets, as a benchmark for measuring and monitoring progress. In the subsequent vehicle development process, these sustainability targets were given the same priority as cost and weight targets. This is the first time a vehicle project of the BMW Group has implemented such an approach so radically, so extensively and so systematically.
The BMW i3 Concept proves beyond doubt how successfully these sustainability targets were achieved. The life cycle global warming potential (CO2e) of the BMW i3 Concept, assuming a European electricity mix (EU 25), is at least a third lower than for a highly efficient combustion-engined vehicle in the same segment. If the vehicle is powered by renewable electricity, the improvement increases to well over 50 per cent. In addition to global warming potential, other environmental impact categories have been taken into account as well. This is reflected in a large number of innovative measures relating to the development, production and recycling stage. Some of these solutions were developed by suppliers. In this way BMW i is setting new standards of sustainability across the entire value chain.
“The new directions being taken by BMW i – including the LifeDrive architecture, the drive units, the production methods and the use of sustainable materials – all help to reduce the global warming potential (CO2e) of every single vehicle.” (Simone Lempa-Kindler, Responsible for sustainability at project i).
Sustainability in the development process.
With its innovative LifeDrive architecture and extensive use of intelligent lightweight design, the BMW i3 Concept is specifically targeted at electric mobility. This purpose-built design, which compensates for the weight penalty of an electric power train, also features innovative use of CFRP (carbon fibre-reinforced plastic). The weight savings ensure an extended driving range and even more efficient zero-emission electric operation – in other words, more miles per kilowatt of electricity. At the same time, sustainability is also reflected in the high-class interior, where for the first time the use of renewable materials is clearly visible. Natural fibre-based materials are clearly identifiable in instrument panel and door trim surfaces and details, for example. Along with naturally tanned leather, these materials make this new, “natural” interior aesthetic immediately likeable.
The BMW i3 Concept also has a high recycled material content. 25 per cent of the interior plastics by weight have been replaced by recycled and renewable materials, as have 25 per cent by weight of the exterior thermoplastic components, while the CFRP used in the Life Module consists of 10 per cent recycled material. The use of recycled CFRP in this form is currently unique.
The BMW Group has for a long time been investing huge efforts in developing a sustainable production system. The aim is to reduce the environmental impact of the production process to an absolute minimum. The criteria against which progress is monitored include energy and water consumption, process wastewater, solvent emissions and waste sent to landfill – in each case calculated per vehicle produced. At the same time the BMW Group also monitors CO2e emissions arising from energy consumption. The goal is to reduce resources consumption and emissions per vehicle produced by 30 per cent over 2006 levels by 2012.
However, in the production of its BMW i vehicles the company will be going even further. Compared with the current figures for the BMW Group production network, which has been the benchmark in the entire automotive industry on sustainability for a number of years, the future production plant for BMW i vehicles – Leipzig – will achieve additional 70 per cent savings on water consumption and 50 per cent savings on energy consumption per vehicle produced. 100 per cent of the energy used in production of the BMW i will be renewable.
Further opportunity for reducing global warming potential across the entire product lifecycle can be achieved through a carefully focused purchasing strategy for the lightweight materials aluminium and CFRP, which due to the BMW i’s LifeDrive concept account for a much bigger proportion of the total materials used compared with a conventional vehicle. Recycled aluminium, also known as secondary aluminium, and aluminium produced from 100 per cent renewable energy, offer big opportunities for reducing CO2e emissions. By using renewable energy, CO2e emissions per kilogram of aluminium produced can be reduced by 50 per cent compared with a conventional manufacturing process, while the savings from using secondary aluminium are as high as 80 per cent. Wherever possible, therefore, the standard castings for the BMW i3 Concept contain 100 per cent secondary aluminium, while for high-strength structural components and crash management components, 50 per cent low-emission recycled content is used. A total of more than 80 per cent of the aluminium used in the BMW i3 Concept is produced either using renewable energy or from secondary material. In CFRP manufacturing, too, BMW i always uses the most eco-friendly processes. The CFRP produced by our joint venture partner at the Moses Lake plant (USA) is made using electricity generated entirely from renewable hydroelectric power.
High standards are also set for the supply chain. BMW i suppliers must demonstrate that their business practices are sustainable and their internal operations must comply with the social and environmental sustainability standards of the BMW Group. Suppliers who perform outsourced development work must also integrate recycling into the product development process.
Recycling as the norm.
All BMW i processes conform to the principles of closed-loop material recycling and waste avoidance. Looking at the product lifecycle in its entirety, examples of recycling include use of recycled process wastewater in the production process, use of secondary aluminium and use of recycled fabric in CFRP production. End-to-end recycling saves resources and conserves raw materials for future use. Another priority for the development team is to ensure that all structures and processes are designed to facilitate component reuse and material and energy recycling.
Social sustainability at BMW i.
Just like the environmental and economic aspects of sustainability, the social aspects too were taken into account at an early
stage in product development and design. Here BMW i is building on the existing very high standards of the BMW Group
and is systematically reinforcing its commitment to three key issues: responsibility for employees today and in the future, commitment
to ethical standards in the supply chain, and social responsibility. Important aspects here include curtailing noise exposure and
reducing stress through improved workplace design, for example through natural lighting on the assembly line, along with a
structured health management policy that takes into account demographic change in the production workforce, provision of special
health and fitness programmes and development of retirement models.
Source: BMW Group Press Release