A new initiative is looking into how the quality of materials acquired from "end-of-life" vehicles can be improved and implemented in new cars.
The BMW Group has set new sustainability goals through a new initiative called Car2Car. The company has revised previous targets and now aims to increase the number of recycled materials to 50% in new models. Bavaria's preeminent automaker has partnered with several stakeholders from the recycling industry and scientific community to come up with ways to improve the quality of secondary materials gathered from "end-of-life" vehicles.
Thanks to a €6.4 million (approximately $7 million) injection from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action in Germany, BMW will explore how valuable materials such as steel, copper, and aluminum (as well as plastic and glass) can be repurposed more sustainably.
In the future, BMW believes that advancements in the dismantling and sorting of reusable vehicle compartments will result in more recyclable resources for new car production.
A total of 500 end-of-life vehicles - from the Mini, BMW, and Rolls-Royce stables - will be provided for the project. A mix of ICE, plug-in hybrid, and fully-electric vehicles will be used to represent the entirety of the BMW Group's offerings. The company's partners will look into how the vehicle material flow can be improved, along with how this affects the quality of recycled materials.
As a premium automaker, BMW also has to ensure the raw materials accumulated from recycling can fit the quality standards befitting fine luxury vehicles. BMW is no stranger to using secondary materials and notes the current proportion of these resources sits around the 30% mark.
To reach the 50% mark, BMW claims recyclability is already being considered in the design process of new models, which should make things a lot easier down the line.
The next-generation Mini Countryman, for example, will ride on wheels made from 70% recycled aluminum, while the interior will contain elements of repurposed PET bottles and even discarded carpets.
BMW has long been committed to sustainable practices. Since 1994, the manufacturer has operated a recycling center that processes as many as 10,000 vehicles per annum (watch the video below to see the facility in action). Aside from this, BMW hopes to establish a circular economy with this new initiative. If you're not aware, a circular economy incentivizes the use of recycled and secondary materials as opposed to sourcing new materials.
Artificial Intelligence will play a big role in this project by speeding up and automating processes that, until now, have been performed manually. AI technology can also be used to detect reusable materials, which would benefit the quality of the chosen secondary materials.
"The BMW Group is focusing rigorously on technological innovations as a driver of greater sustainability in all areas of the value chain," said the company's Uwe Kohler. "The cumulative know-how of the various partners involved in this project could potentially unlock whole new ways of obtaining valuable secondary raw materials. This would make it possible to save natural resources and reduce carbon emissions when manufacturing our vehicles."
By reducing emissions in production, BMW can justify building combustion-engined cars for years to come. While it offers an impressive range of electric vehicles, the automaker's CEO has previously said he believed a premature ban on ICE engines would be a mistake, especially since the supporting infrastructure necessary for EVs is lagging. In fact, reports suggest BMW is working on all-new engines to power a series of new SUVs coming in 2027.
Hopefully, BMW can maintain its quality standards with recycled materials, as it seems like a win-win solution. Emissions are reduced, costs are cut, and important resources are left untouched.
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