Anyone who buys a plug-in hybrid or an electric car is clearly doing their bit for the environment. These vehicles already have a much smaller carbon footprint than models with a petrol or diesel engine. But environmentally-friendly electric cars have yet to realise their full potential: They still have a lot to offer.
In order to optimise its vehicles’ carbon balance, BMW Group engineers consider all major variables in the development phase. The drive train (petrol, diesel, plug-in hybrid or electric) is just one part of it; the carbon footprint is also crucial – taking into account energy consumption during the entire lifecycle: from procurement of materials to the supply chain, from manufacturing at the BMW Group plant to producing fuel and charging electricity; all the way to recycling, where the value cycle can be closed again.
When a mid-sized electric vehicle with a lithium-ion battery leaves production these days, it does so with a carbon cost that is roughly 60% higher than a diesel*. This is due to the use of lithium, cobalt and manganese – the basic elements for high-voltage batteries – which can only be extracted and processed using a great deal of energy. Electric vehicles make up for this during the customer usage phase, of course. They do so most effectively in precisely those areas where combustion engines – petrol or diesel – generate around 70%* of their lifetime emissions: over short distances and in the city.
BMW Group engineers are also very interested in factors such as size, weight and a vehicle’s range. Plug-in hybrids (so-called PHEVs), which combine the advantages of an electric drive train with those of a petrol or diesel vehicle, are especially beneficial for commuters and customers who regularly use their car in urban areas. In the city, PHEVs benefit from the clean electric drive train and, over longer distances, from a combustion engine with no restrictions on range. Their carbon footprint is much better than that of a diesel – provided customers use electric mode often and charge the vehicle battery frequently.
PHEVs and electric vehicles achieve an optimal carbon balance when they are charged exclusively with electricity from renewable energy sources. Electricity production in Europe currently still generates average CO2 emissions of approx. 350 g/kWh. Users can already make sure they use green electricity for charging, but regular electricity will also become increasingly green over the coming years. As a result, the already positive CO2 balance of electric cars and plug-in hybrids, compared to petrol and diesel, will only continue to get even better.
Sustainability. Innovation. Visionary planning. The BMW i models represent not only environmentally-conscious mobility, but also technological progress. Vehicle development is not the BMW Group’s only focus – because the same technology can also be used for many additional applications: From electrified boats and energy storage to local public transport – the BMW Group is literally driving electrification in a wide range of different areas.
Gamification – the practice of incorporating gaming elements, such as badges and points, into everyday processes – has many advantages. It boosts involvement, encourages longer, more regular usage and makes whatever you are doing more fun. But can it also be used to help the environment? The BMW Group wanted to find out – and so, in collaboration with the City of Rotterdam, it launched the pilot project “Electric City Drive” late last year.
E-MOBILITY IS THE NEW NORMAL. It is also the motto for the BMW Group’s ongoing efforts to find new electrified mobility solutions – solutions that not only enable convenient charging with cheap, emission-free electricity wherever possible, but entirely redefine the premium driving experience. A stable power grid is key. That is why the BMW Mobility and Energy Services business unit is working hand-in-hand with the energy industry on a number of new projects.