Creative solutions for Rotterdam.

The bustling city of Rotterdam is one of Europe’s major hubs. But, these days, traffic is something of a problem. With pilot projects and events to develop ground-breaking new ideas, the city and the BMW Group are working together to build tomorrow’s mobility.

A brief visit to Rotterdam soon confirms why the city is sometimes referred to as “Manhattan on the Maas”: The dynamic Dutch city is renowned for its bold architecture. Landmarks like the Erasmus Bridge, the De Rotterdam building, the new Markthal shopping development and the Cube Houses certainly create an impressive skyline. Since Rotterdam is also home to Europe’s biggest port and one of the world’s busiest cargo terminals, the city is naturally a major hub.

Unfortunately, the traffic situation reflects this. And with the Netherlands’ second-largest city still on the fast track to growth, traffic-related problems are only likely to increase. Rotterdam residents are not standing idly by, however. They are doing everything they can to reduce pollution and improve quality of life. Sustainability and environmental protection are big issues for a city built largely below sea level and therefore directly threatened by climate change and rising sea levels.

In its efforts to improve sustainability, the city is working with the BMW Group and others. Together, the two partners are launching various projects to shape urban mobility in Rotterdam. In mid-September of this year, for example, representatives from the City of Rotterdam and the BMW Group signed a memorandum of understanding, committing to tackle the challenges of the energy transition with concrete projects over the next three years and contribute towards implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Pilot project “Electric City Drive”

The first projects are already underway. One of these is “Electric City Drive” aimed at motivating owners of plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) to use electric power more often in the city. An important component of this is a study open to all owners of BMW and MINI plug-in hybrids living or working in Rotterdam. One of the questions asked is, what needs to happen to persuade them to use their electric motor more often? Drivers can also install a special app that tells them when their vehicle is entering the so-called “Electric City Drive Area”, where electric driving mode can be especially beneficial. As soon as emission-free mode is selected, they can start earning points and compare their own statistics with those of other users via the app. This serves as an incentive for many and highlights the benefits of electric driving.

All data collected by the study and the app will be evaluated in December by Erasmus University in Rotterdam. The insights gained in this way will form the basis for measures to reduce CO2 emissions through more frequent use of electric propulsion.

BMW Group Dialogues

Alongside Los Angeles, Melbourne, Shenzhen and Berlin, Rotterdam also played host to one of this year’s “BMW Group Dialogues”. Under the motto “Cities in Progress”, representatives from the city, companies, institutes and universities, as well as residents, gathered here in September to discuss the challenges of urban mobility. To understand the situation better, the BMW Group also conducted a survey as part of the event series: 48 percent of residents regarded air pollution as the most urgent problem for mobility. Lack of parking (47 percent), road congestion (45 percent) and CO2 emissions (34 percent) were also viewed as major challenges.


To find creative approaches to solve this and other urban issues, the BMW Group also held one of this year’s rad°hub events in Rotterdam. The think tank brings together visionaries, experts and decision-makers from different disciplines to discuss the challenges of mobility. In Rotterdam, joining forces with all interested parties, they developed future scenarios and discussed suggestions for new BMW Group products and services, focusing on the responsibility of shaping our cities and future mobility. Workshops were also conducted in selected areas, such as Connected Life or Smart Habitat.

Over the coming months, the BMW Group plans to evaluate the results of the Rotterdam events and figure out ways to make “Manhattan on the Maas” more mobile and more sustainable. Under the memorandum of understanding, those responsible will then set about implementing these concepts.    

Summary Melbourne