The Electric Power Spokes seen on the battery-powered drop-top are fashioned out of 100% recycled aluminum.
Following the reveal of the limited Mini Cooper Convertible SE, the BMW Group has shared details showing that the drop top's sustainability goes beyond its electric drivetrain - it's the first production car to boast wheels made entirely from recycled aluminum.
They may look the same as the Electric Power Spokes found on the Cooper Electric Hardtop, but they're far more eco-friendly. Thanks to the recycled aluminum, BMW says the light-alloy items have a carbon footprint of less than 0.16 kg (0.35 pounds) of carbon for every 1 kg (2.2 lbs) of aluminum.
This means wheel manufacturer Ronal has reduced its carbon emissions by up to 75% compared to the production of standard wheels. This sees carbon emissions fall from around 287 lbs to 66 lbs.
"As a premium manufacturer, we [have] entrenched sustainability in the development from very early on," said Dr. Nicolai Martin, Senior Vice President of Development Automated Driving BMW Group. "The light alloy wheels of the fully electric open-top four-seater are a prime example of sustainable resource use, and they represent an important milestone on the road to [a] circular economy for the BMW Group."
Other benefits come from this unique process. Not only does it reduce the burden on raw material resources, but these eco-friendly wheels don't need to be put through the electrolysis process, which is very energy intensive.
Mini hasn't had to sacrifice strength or build integrity, either. The new wheels meet the structural and quality requirements set by the BMW Group and also deliver the same aerodynamic benefits as the regular wheel.
Customers taking delivery of the drop-top electric Mini are part of a pilot project, with the BMW Group exploring different avenues to reduce its carbon footprint. This small series production run may lead to bigger things in the future, and as the company hopes to reduce demand for raw materials, we could see recycled wheels become commonplace.
Many years and plenty of miles down the line, when the Mini has nothing left to give, the wheels can be fully recycled at the end of their lifecycle. This means it could be used for another set of wheels one day - or perhaps even window frames or airplane components.
By 2050, Continental has said it hopes to produce tires made entirely from recycled materials. Perhaps in the future, entire vehicles will be comprised of reusable materials. We're already seeing a trend with the new Audi Q8 e-tron boasting seatbelts made from recycled plastic.
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