BMW aspires to become the champion of the circular economy

The concept car unveiled on Monday September 6 by BMW at the Munich Mobility Show (Germany), which will close its doors on Sunday September 12, does not in any way prefigure the style of its next models. Quite the contrary. The very plunging hood and the extreme simplicity of its lines, whose soft shapes evoke a minivan, have little to do with the readily spectacular design of the current range.

The Vision Circular concept, a fully recyclable vehicle planned for 2040, intends to signify the Bavarian manufacturer’s commitment to the circular economy. By 2030, BMW promises to increase the proportion of recycled materials incorporated in its models from 30% to 50%. “We want to become the most sustainable premium brand in the world”, says Oliver Zipse, the group’s president.

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The 10 million all-electric cars the firm plans to manufacture over the next decade are expected to help cut carbon dioxide (CO2) of all new BMWs when they are on the road. However, the leaders of the brand want to carry the effort “Over the entire life cycle of vehicles”, by also looking at their manufacturing conditions. This should make it possible to reduce the overall carbon footprint of future models by 40%.

The BMW range already uses 25% recycled steel and 50% aluminum. In the future, it should be possible to achieve rates of 50% and 80% respectively. For batteries, a percentage of 95% of products “Secondary” is targeted, especially as technological developments should lead to a reduction in the use of cobalt, a metal that is difficult to reuse.

Growing consumption of energy and raw materials

Recycling these materials also makes it possible to limit by more than half the energy consumption required for their production. As far as plastics are concerned, things are more complex: for the time being, BMW relies on 20% recycled plastics and intends to reach the threshold of 50%.

The commitment to recycling, which is of growing importance in the communication of manufacturers, covers some unspoken. This can be seen as a consequence of the increasing consumption of energy and raw materials imposed upstream by the electrification of vehicles, during their manufacture, due to the presence of batteries. A differential with thermal models which will be more or less compensated by the absence of CO2 issued during the use phase. In addition, environmental organizations frequently stress that this issue overlooks the trend growth in vehicle weight, in particular due to the success of SUVs. Lighter cars would de facto be easier to recycle.

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