The BMW Group is pushing up its sustainability efforts, and starting in 2024, the BMW and MINI brands will employ cast aluminum wheels made entirely of green energy. This is another step toward the BMW Group’s objective of developing the most sustainable supply chain in the automobile industry. The change is particularly relevant to the energy-intensive electrolysis employed in the production of aluminum, as well as the wheel-casting process. To that purpose, agreements with all BMW Group wheel suppliers have been achieved.
Until now, wheels have accounted for around 5% of supply chain CO2 emissions. Transitioning to more sustainable production that uses green energy will cut emissions by more than half. The BMW Group purchases around 10 million light-alloy wheels each year, with cast aluminum accounting for 95 percent of these purchases.
Annual CO2 savings of up to 500,000 tonnes
The BMW Group can assure responsible and sustainable use of aluminum by its contracted producers through independent audits, saving up to 500,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. “One of the most powerful levers for decreasing CO2 emissions in our supply chain is green power.” “We’ve now signed over 400 contracts with our suppliers, including wheel and aluminum suppliers, mandating them to use green electricity,” says Joachim Post, member of BMW AG’s Board of Management responsible for Purchasing and Supplier Network.
Because aluminum has high recycling qualities, it is easy to recycle old tires as part of the circular economy. This eliminates the need for the primary raw material to be produced through energy-intensive electrolysis. At the same time, the secondary raw material must match the BMW Group’s premium quality, design, safety, and mechanical characteristics standards.
MINI is a pioneer in the use of environmentally friendly light-alloy cast wheels.
MINI will be a pioneer in this industry in 2023, when the new generation of the MINI Countryman will debut light-alloy cast wheels comprised of 70% secondary aluminum. When compared to traditional manufacturing methods, a combination of 100% green power and 70% secondary raw material composition can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 80%.
Aluminium Stewardship Initiative certification (ASI)
For many years, the BMW Group has been actively involved in international programs aimed at standardizing raw material extraction. The Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI) is an international non-profit organization supported by environmental and industrial groups, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), aluminum producers, and processing firms. The BMW Group is pleased that many of its aluminum wheel suppliers have already joined ASI and are thereby contributing significantly to the creation of an ecologically and socially responsible aluminum value chain.
In December 2019, ASI accredited the light metal foundry at BMW Group Plant Landshut for its sustainable use of aluminum, indicating that it uses aluminum mindfully and ethically.
Systematic achievement of sustainability objectives
The switch to 100 percent green power for the production of cast aluminum wheels is another milestone in the BMW Group supplier network’s effort to reduce CO2 emissions. The goal is to cut emissions across the supply chain by 20% from 2019 levels by 2030. Systematically increasing the ratio of secondary aluminum through this process contributes to sustainability, in line with the circular economy principles to which the BMW Group aspires.
Since 2021, the BMW Group has bought aluminum from the United Arab Emirates that is entirely powered by solar energy. The aluminum produced in Dubai is processed in the light metal foundry at BMW Group Plant Landshut and utilized to make body and drive train components.