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BMW Plans Sustainable i-Series Production

Posted By Paul Tate, July 29, 2011 at 9:47 AM, in Category: Sustainability

German carmaker BMW released more details of its upcoming new i-Series models in Munich today, stressing the sustainable manufacturing processes and materials to be used in their construction.

Prototypes of the new i3 compact electric urban vehicle, due for launch in 2013, and the i8 hybrid ‘new generation’ sports car, due in 2014, reveal that the vehicles will embody some of the company’s latest sustainable ideas. Both models will be built at BMW's Leipzig plant in Germany.

The electric i3, for example, will use an innovative carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic process in its construction to help make the vehicles lighter, but still as strong. BMW’s development head, Klaus Draeger, describes the i3 as, "the first volume-produced car featuring bodywork largely made of carbon."

The final version is expected to weigh just 2,756 pounds – that’s 600 pounds less than a Nissan Leaf. The car also has a high level of recycled material content: 25% of the thermoplastic components by weight have been replaced by recycled and renewable materials, says BMW.

The future i-Series production lines in Leipzig also aim to achieve an additional 70% saving on water consumption and 50% saving on energy consumption for each vehicle produced. The company also says that 100% of the energy used to build the cars will be renewable.

BMW is also focusing on a more sustainable supply sourcing strategy for the new models. “Using aluminum produced from 100 per cent renewable energy, also known as secondary aluminum, the brand can achieve savings of 50 to 80 per cent of CO2 emissions, compared with a conventional manufacturing process,” says the company. Over 80% of the aluminum used in the BMW i3 Concept is produced either using renewable energy or from this secondary material.

In 2010, the Dow Jones Sustainability Index ranked the BMW Group the most sustainable company in the global auto sector for the sixth time.

Is BMW setting new global standards for sustainable auto production with these new i-Series models?

Category: Sustainability
Written by Paul Tate

Paul Tate is Research Director and Executive Editor with Frost & Sullivan's Manufacturing Leadership Council. He also directs the Manufacturing Leadership Council's Board of Governors, the Council's annual Critical Issues Agenda, and the Manufacturing Leadership Research Panel. Follow us on Twitter: @MfgExecutive


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