Technological watch

BMW Unveils Green Driving Machine

It’s always a challenge to digest the sustainability credentials of automakers, given the inherently heavy environmental footprints of all manner of private vehicles when stacked up against walking, running, cycling, and public transport. Nevertheless, any efforts to increase the use of recycled materials in cars deserves credit.

Highlighting such ambitions, the overall design goal of the BMW i Vision Circular concept vehicle is to create a platform that is optimized for closed material cycles and achieves a rate of 100% recycled materials or 100% recyclability. The concept car was unveiled at the International Motor Show IAA Mobility 2021.

In addition to bio-based and certified raw materials, materials that have already passed through a product life cycle — so-called secondary materials — are used to achieve this recyclability objective. This also applies to the energy storage system: The solid-state battery of the BMW i Vision Circular is 100% recyclable and almost completely made from recycled materials. At the same time, it will achieve a considerably higher energy density with significantly fewer of the most valuable resources.

In terms of plastics usage, the seat assemblies are made entirely of recycled plastic; a quick-release fastener enables easy separation of the metal and textile components, a clever application of design for recyclability.

Image: BMW

BMW's "Joyful Fusion" quick-release fastener allows easy separation of seat components, facilitating recycling. The instrument panel brings together a concoction of FSC-certified wood, recycled aluminum, and recycled 3D-printed plastic, and once again incorporates BMW’s quick-release fastener that enable easy separation of major components. The interior features recycled wood powder, aluminum, 3D-printed plastics, and other plastic components in various color combinations.

Don’t despair if you’re looking for a lighter environmental impact. BMW also unveiled a high-speed pedelec (electric bike) with speed options of 25 km/h (15.5 mph) on cycle tracks, up to 45 km/h (28 mph) on city roads, and up to 60 km/h (37 mph) on multi-lane roads and outside urban areas. Don’t forget your license for the higher speeds, though.

Incidentally, for what’s purportedly an auto show, there were more bicycle manufacturers than car manufacturers at the show in Munich, where IAA Mobility relocated this year from its former base in Frankfurt.

Continuing the eco-friendly trend at IAA Mobility, Volkswagen unveiled its pared down ID. LIFE concept EV, expected to sell at an attractive €20,000 ($23,700). In the clear coat for the bodywork, wood chips are used as a natural coloring agent along with a bio-based hardener. Further, the air chamber textile for the roof and front cover is made from 100% recycled PET bottles. In the interior, wood in the dashboard and rear seat surrounds is combined with ArtVelours Eco microfleece for the seat surfaces and door trims. Finally, bio-oil, natural rubber, and rice husks are just some of the materials used in the tires.

Publication date: 08/09/2021

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This project has been co-funded with the support of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union [LIFE17 ENV/ES/000438] Life programme

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Last update: 2022-01-31