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TÜV SÜD Technical Inspectorate confirms BMW i3 can emit 30-50% less total life cycle greenhouse gases than comparable conventional vehicles

The BMW i3 battery electric vehicle can emit 30-50% less total life cycle greenhouse gases than comparable conventional vehicles depending upon the source of its electricity, according to its ISO 14040/14044 certificate from the TÜV SÜD Technical Inspectorate. (Earlier post.) Market launch for the i3 is on 16 November.

The 30% reduction is achieved by using energy from the EU 25 electricity mix, which takes account of all electricity generation in the European Union. The 50% reduction compared with conventional automobiles results as soon as the BMW i3 is powered exclusively by energy generated from renewables such as wind or solar power. ISO 14040/14004 are international standards for lifecycle assessment.

At the introduction of the production version of the i3 earlier this year in new York, Dr. Julian Weber, head of Innovation Projects e-Mobility at BMW, also proposed that the i3 would deliver the 30-50% reduction, noting that EVs in general currently have a larger carbon burden in the production phase than conventional vehicles (e.g., earlier post), but gain their advantage in the use phase.

The certificate in conformity with the ISO standard is not simply a quality seal for the BMW i3 but also provides a confirmation of the approach of the new BMW i brand for sustainable, individual mobility, the company said. The document certifies that the BMW i3 complies with the targets defined during development for the environmental impacts generated during sourcing, production, usage and subsequent recycling.

For the first time in the history of the BMW Group, we already defined sustainable targets for a newly designed vehicle over the entire value chain during the early strategic phase. The inspection looked at the entire life cycle from extraction of raw materials and manufacture, through usage to recycling, in order to take account of all environmental aspects. The fact that this approach and its results are now being verified by a neutral agency demonstrates that we have adopted a pioneering roadmap.

The sustainability targets defined for BMW i automobiles have attained the same status as cost or weight criteria in the course of the development process. Every single component and each individual process stage has been accurately reviewed and analysed by us from the perspective of sustainability. This road route took us to a lot of innovative and pioneering solutions.

—Ulrich Kranz, Senior Vice President BMW i

The certification procedure carried out by TÜV SÜD Management Service GmbH included a detailed review of the data used for the environmental footprint study implemented on the BMW i3, the production process and the results obtained from analysis based on clearly defined criteria.

The experts stated in their conclusion that all the requirements of the ISO standard 14040/44 were complied with when the environmental footprint study was carried out and that the methods applied were compliant with the most advanced engineering standards. The accuracy of all the input data and the environmental information was also confirmed.

The electric drive naturally provides the most important feature in the environmental footprint of the BMW i3. The high share of recycled materials and the energy efficient production process are reducing the environmental impact of the BMW i3 even further.

Innovations realized in the BMW i3 range from the LifeDrive architecture with a passenger cell manufactured from carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) and an aluminum chassis for mounting the engine, chassis, high-voltage battery and crash structures, and an exceptional array of materials used in the interior.

Leather tanned with olive-leaf extract, environmentally refined wood from certified cultivation in Europe and the tangible use of natural fibres in the instrument panel and the door panels mean that users are able to experience the premium character defined by sustainability. 25% by weight of each of the plastics used in the interior and the thermoplastics in the exterior have been derived from recycled material or renewable raw materials.

A maximally high proportion of raw materials capable of recycling and energy-efficient manufacturing procedures also plays a role in the application of aluminium and CFRP to optimise the environmental footprint. Most of the lightweight alloy components of the BMW i3 are made up of secondary aluminum.

This is not obtained from aluminum ore but from melted production scrap and can be produced using up to 95% less energy. Furthermore, primary aluminum also makes a contribution to the sustainability of the BMW i3 since it is produced using energy generated from renewable resources.

The BMW Group makes use of its unique expertise in the area of industrial CFRP production to manufacture the Life Module. The aim is to adopt a multidisciplinary approach to creating maximally sustainable manufacturing processes. Around 10% of the CFRP used in the passenger cell is made of recycled materials. For example, offcuts from the manufacture of CFRP components can be returned to the production stages in a process specially developed for BMW i automobiles. This reduces the need for raw materials from the carbon-fibre plant located at Moses Lake (USA).

The facility produces the raw material for all the components manufactured from CFRP in the BMW i3. 100% of the energy required to manufacture the carbon fibres is produced from locally generated hydropower. The electricity for production of BMW i automobiles at the Leipzig plant also comes exclusively from renewable energy sources.

This is also the first time that wind turbines have been used at the plant of an automobile manufacturer in Germany to supply electricity directly for production purposes on site.


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