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Mr Krüger, how about giving us a tweet and describing to us in 280 characters: What does sustainability mean for your company?
For us, sustainability means future viability – for the BMW Group and for society. We know the challenges and are rising to meet them. We develop innovative mobility solutions that create additional value for customers, the company and society. #SustainableBMWGroup
How exactly did you implement that in 2017?
With specific measures and projects along the entire value chain: Last year, we reduced CO2-emissions in our global new vehicle fleet by 141 grams per kilometer. In Europe, we now source our electricity free of CO2.
We increased the share of electric vehicles in our product portfolio and sold over 100,000 electric vehicles in 2017. We are the market leader for electric vehicles in Europe.
And there are more examples in other areas: We opened a battery farm in Leipzig, Germany. We considerably increased the transparency of our cobalt supply chain. We continued to support a large number of social projects. I could go on with this list for quite a while. The BMW Group does not simply talk about new projects, it also makes sure it implements them.
Nevertheless: 2017 was not an easy year for the car industry.
That’s true. Not all companies in our industry have understood that words alone are not enough. You have to deliver. People have lost trust in cars. People have lost trust in the automotive industry. We have to take measures to counteract this. As an industry, we have to do even more, while at the same time steering the public discussion back into more objective waters.
You’re talking about the diesel discussion in Germany.
This discussion was very prominent of course. A few years ago, there was a strong international focus on CO2 emissions. Then, in 2017, NOx emissions were often at the forefront – especially in our home market here in Germany. There were a number of discussions about potentially banning diesel vehicles in cities.
We have to take these discussions seriously. We have spoken to many stakeholders in metropolitan centres around the world. People in the cities are increasing pressure on their municipal governments to provide new mobility concepts. And in turn, the municipalities are demanding the same from carmakers. That’s understandable.
The key thing is for us to be able to offer solutions that improve quality of life in the cities – with our products, but also with new and innovative mobility services.
In Germany in particular, there is a lot of very critical discussion about diesel.
I can understand that a technology such as diesel would come under critical discussion in public. We are open to that. However, I think the discussion has often left objectivity behind and overshot the mark.
If we want to shape mobility patterns of the future in a more sustainable way, we should not prematurely exclude a mature technology like diesel. Especially in view of the fact that this technology offers what many people wish for. Diesel is highly efficient, as our vehicles show.
Many carmakers argue that they support sustainability. Critical stakeholders, on the other hand, doubt the motivations of the manufacturers. How do you answer these critics?
Why would we want to resist a more sustainable future? It wouldn’t make sense. On the contrary, we are looking at the opportunities it can create for our company. This is in line with our corporate culture.
Awareness of sustainability is on the increase all over the world. More and more people are asking questions about the products they buy and the supply chain behind them. The framework conditions are changing. Sustainable management is not an altruistic idea, it’s essential for our company to be successful.
Take, for example, the environmental measures we’ve already taken: our increasingly efficient use of resources has gained us €161 million since 2006 – that’s a great motivator.
What are the key sustainability goals of the BMW Group?
We remain committed to the principles of the United Nations Global Compact, which we have consistently implemented at all our locations since 2001. We pursue an integrated sustainability strategy. We have set ten long-term goals along the entire value chain: from the areas of “Products and services”, “Production and value creation” as well as “Employees and society”.
What goals do you have for 2018 specifically?
First of all, we aim to continue to add substance to sustainability within the company: in terms of our products, on the production line, in our supply chain, and of course in our interaction with employees and society.
You will find numerous examples in this report: We will continue to increase the number of electric vehicles in our product range. We will increase the share of renewable energy used at our plants and are thus moving towards carbon-free production. And, among other things, we will be redesigning the raw materials chains for our batteries to make them more sustainable.
But let me also make clear: in many areas, we depend on corresponding advances in societal framework conditions. Electromobility is a good example of this: we already offer the products and solutions. Often, however, the necessary infrastructure is not yet available, which would ensure that they fully achieve their potential. We cannot act alone in this respect. Everyone has to play their part.
All the more reason to continue to foster dialogue with our stakeholders in all our regions. Discussions can only take the right direction if there is a mutual understanding of the needs and room for manoeuvre.
I am confident, that we will take a further large step towards sustainable mobility in 2018. This will benefit all of us.
Chairman of the Board of Bayerische Motoren Werke Aktiengesellschaft
Sustainable Value Report.
Sustainability management: key performance indicators.
PROFIT BEFORE TAX IN 2017 IN € MILLION .
CO2 EMISSIONS OF BMW GROUP AUTOMOBILES IN 2017 WORLDWIDE IN G/KM.
INVESTMENT IN FURTHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING IN 2017 IN € MILLION.