BMW Presents at Opportunity Green Conference

At last week’s Opportunity Green conference, BMW’s Manuel Sattig, project manager for their Project i (first covered here in July), gave a great presentation about some of the things BMW is doing to lower their CO2 print. Here are some of the things they’re doing to reduce CO2 at the manufacturing level:

  • 80% of the aluminum they use is either secondary aluminum (recycled) or primary aluminum made in a plant powered by renewable energy
  • Recycled polyester for interior textiles
  • Renewable plastics for interior panels
  • Joint Venture with their Carbon Fiber supplier to help them switch to hydroelectric power, reducing the facility’s CO2 print by half.

Here are some things BMW is doing to help drivers lower their CO2 print:

  • Field tested over 400 Mini E’s in a variety of countries, with hundreds of drivers logging 40 million kilometers in testing, as reported here.
  • Developing proprietary electric powertrain for use in pure electrics and hybrids
  • Including trip planning capability to help drivers choose a more efficient route, with awareness of topography as well as traffic
  • Developing an EV especially suited for megacities

Muscle Cars for Treehuggers

BMW’s global sustainability report gives more detailed information about these initiatives. I also had a chat with Manuel and Richard, and they told me they promise to continue building high-performance vehicles while also improving efficiency. They pointed out that their research from the Mini E field test showed that “the Prius effect” works in their vehicles too- when people have a monitor of their energy usage right in front of them, they generally drive more conservatively. However, those of us with a need for speed may find ourselves with a lower average than the 78mpg claimed for the delectable i8 PHEV…

What I find most promising about electric powertrains is that they force the manufacturer to maximize both efficiency and performance. BMW builds high-performance muscle cars, and most performance vehicles have horrendous fuel efficiency. So if they want to sell EV’s to BMW customers (and not just to Mini customers), they need an EV that can perform, but also go the distance.

Perhaps the i8 will be that vehicle, perhaps it will end up as efficient as the Fisker Karma. We know from watching Mission Motors in July’s TTXGP race that electric powertrains can perform competitively against ICE. It’s just a matter of making the batteries last as long as gasoline, since electric motors already operate at close to 100% efficiency, unlike ICE motors. Internal combustion Engineers have normally either had to focus on efficiency or performance. We can have a Camry or a Ferrari, but we can’t have a Ferrari with Camry MPG. I think it’s time that changed, and it seems the best way to do it is with electric powertrains.


Susanna Schick

Susanna is passionate about anything fast and electric. As long as it's only got two wheels. She covers electric motorcycle racing events, test rides electric motorcycles, and interviews industry leaders. Occasionally she deigns to cover automobile events in Los Angeles for us as well. However, she dreams of a day when Los Angeles' streets resemble the two-wheeled paradise she discovered living in Barcelona and will not rest until she's converted the masses to two-wheeled bliss.