In the “WEffect” sustainability series, the BMW Group highlights the sustainable contribution made by a wide range of people in the company – and the motivation that inspires them. Today: Frederique Albrecht.
Sustainability has many facets at the BMW Group because we are using this term to harmonise business, the environment and society. If we are to successfully put these high standards into practice, we need our employees’ commitment. Everyone can play their part in making the BMW Group sustainable.
So, who are all these colleagues who make sustainability part of their everyday work? What drives them to roll up their sleeves throughout the company? In its “WEffect” sustainability series, the BMW Group introduces employees who play their daily part in the broad and responsible further development of our company.
In this edition of our series, Frederique Albrecht, CO2 strategist at the BMW Group and ambassador for One Young World, describes the challenges of reducing CO2 – and how sustainable goals can be achieved together.
Frederique Albrecht, you have been working with colleagues in the USA and China for over two years. Due to the pandemic, though, you have never actually sat together in real life, never met in person, just via video conference. How is it going?
Frederique Albrecht: It’s going well. We have a great team spirit here! This is down to the fact that we all work on our areas with enormous conviction and enthusiasm; we are all pulling together towards the same goal. The real key to this zeal is the way we work so well together. We also communicate very openly, which is particularly important when you can’t sit face to face. Our job is to set the targets for CO2 emissions within the use phase for each vehicle that we want to achieve. We also set out strategies on how to reach these goals. In this way, we will ensure that by 2030, CO2 emissions are reduced by at least 50 per cent in the use phase across the entire fleet, compared to 2019 figures. That, for me personally, is the bare minimum: we have to deliver 50 per cent. But if we are to make this happen, emissions must be a major priority in every decision that is made. We must have the right mindset and we all need to think with one mind here. That’s how it is with us in the team – the WE feeling is enormous.
Overall, a great deal has been done at the BMW Group in recent years, and the importance of the “reduction in CO2 emissions” topic has been recognised.
Things never run completely smoothly though. What holds you back from achieving your goals?
Albrecht: Looking at current projects, customer demand for emission-free products is particularly important. After all, if this is not the case, we will not get anywhere. A very positive trend has been developing among our customers for more than a year now, meaning that our electric vehicles have a growing appeal. The more stringent legal requirements that we are especially seeing in Europe ensure that change will be faster here compared to China and the USA. The trend is certainly going in a very positive direction; even in China, for example, there is already a quota for e-vehicles. There is still a strong focus on economic growth as well as reducing CO2 emissions. Our first priority in the USA is to strengthen customer demand. The general infrastructure must be improved before we can achieve this because most of it has not yet even been created to enable the broad transformation to e-mobility. In addition, the charging infrastructure is not sufficiently developed in most countries. Essentially, the important thing is to reduce the costs of sustainable solutions to enable the rapid success and profitable growth of e-mobility. We are continuously working on this. Otherwise, there is very little to hold me back. I sense a great passion for the topic from all sides. And when the going gets tricky with the project, I draw strength from my own network as well as from my previous experience. This all gives me a variety of perspectives that help keep me on track.
What is the experience – from a private as well as professional perspective – that you bring to the task?
Albrecht: I have always worked in the field of drive systems ever since I joined the BMW Group. On my journey to my current job, I oversaw the restructuring of our drive portfolio and the transition to e-mobility from a business management perspective. Most recently, I have been pushing the CO2 issues in the vehicle portfolio from a financial perspective. In a way, this is a final step on the way to the CO2 strategy. My awareness has generally been heightened by dealing with climate change, CO2 footprints, and the like. I have changed my diet, eat very little meat and make every effort to use regional produce. I am also more acutely conscious of waste, I cycle a lot – and soon I hope to have an electric car with an eco-energy contract.
What successes do you see? Is there anything that you’re proud of?
Albrecht: The corporate decision to reduce emissions in the use phase of a vehicle by 50 per cent on average in the fleet (from 2019 to 2030) is a huge success in itself. That is something we can actually achieve. It’s also great that there is already such a large proportion of pure e-vehicles on the roads today. Personally, I am particularly proud to have been appointed BMW Group Ambassador at One Young World – one of the company’s 60 delegates. I was very impressed by the event. It brought it home to me even more that each and every one of us has so many opportunities to make the world a little bit better. There are so many specific things we can get to grips with in our private lives as well as professionally. We simply have to do it!
In your opinion, where does the company need to position itself more boldly to make CO2-free mobility a success?
Albrecht: The charging infrastructure is a bottleneck. We have to show even more commitment if we are to win over customers in large numbers.
Can you summarise your motivation in one sentence?
Albrecht: It is so important that we act now to reduce CO2 emissions and become more sustainable. Not only for the future of the BMW Group, but for our future existence on this planet.
And when will you be satisfied? When is it enough?
Albrecht: We are on the way with our long-term goals. Achieving these goals will certainly be a great step. But I will only be satisfied if we make a quantum leap, when we reconcile environmental awareness and economic profitability. The time is now.
In the upcoming portraits from our “WEffect” sustainability series, committed colleagues will also describe their motivation and explain the contribution they are making to sustainability within the BMW Group.