BMW Steps Up Circularity – Connected World

Companies are making some pretty bold statements when it comes to circularity and the climate. I have explained what Microsoft is doing, as one example. Now, we are seeing the automakers, like BMW, making some bold moves.

Consider this. At the BMW Group Annual Conference 2021, Oliver Zipse, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, offers five beliefs:

  1. Effective climate protection can only be achieved through the intensive use of technology.
  2. Industrialization needs the right timing.
  3. The future of our planet demands circularity—and I agree.
  4. Digitization serves humankind.
  5. Growth will remain the most important economic currency.

Since August 2019, Zipse sagacity has been with the board of management team to lay the foundation. Here are just a few of the steps the company has taken toward circularity and the climate. The organization has adopted an integrated approach to sustainability with goals up to 2030 in line with the Paris Climate Agreement. Add to that the fact it is pushing forward in the age of sustainable electromobility, and it is proving to be one of the leaders in this area.

The BMW i3 was launched almost a decade ago, and now comes the next big drive toward transformation: the BMW i4, which is a fully electric vehicle. BMW also admits it will only be able to meet current and future mobility needs with an open-technology approach for all drivetrain forms. This includes e-fuels as well as hydrogen, which will be an alternative worldwide. As such, next year, it will be releasing a small series of the BMW i Hydrogen NEXT.

But here is what is most notable. BMW suggests technology is our enabler for climate neutrality in 2050 and then goes on to make the claim the greenest electric car in the world will be a BMW.

What I especially appreciate is its focus on collaboration and that is what this automaker is doing it right. Part of its vision is on the entire value chain—and not just the vehicles’ local emissions. It is reducing CO2 emission throughout the entire lifecycle: in the supply chain, production, and use phase. For instance, BMW has reached an agreement with suppliers that they will only use green power to produce battery cells. We have to look at everything if we are going to be successful at this. BMW will reduce CO2 emission per vehicle by another 80% by 2030.

And then there is circularity. It calls its new class—Die NEUE KLASSE—the NEW CLASS, which is a combination of an entirely new IT and software architecture, a newly developed electric drive train and battery generation, and a new level of sustainability geared toward a circular economy. BMW is purposely using secondary materials, such as recycled steel, plastics, and aluminum. This means a paradigm shift toward “secondary first”—wherever the quality and availability of materials allow. Circularity is both an aspiration and a promise for BMW.

The timing is right too. This year the company’s xEV sales are expected to grow by more than 75% compared to last year and by the end of this year its objective is to deliver more than one million electrified vehicles to customers since 2013.

However, the company continues to look to the future. 2023 will be a key year in e-mobility—with 13 fully-electric models on the roads. That same year, the company will have at least one fully electric model on the roads in all key segments—from the compact-car segment to the ultra-luxury class.

Looking even further out, it expects to deliver a total of about two million fully electric vehicles to customers by the end of 2025. It will also be growing sales of fully electric models by well more than 50% per year over the next few years.

As we continue to move to a greener and more sustainable future, many of the big companies are making swift moves. What is happening in your company?

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