BMW i3 needs 50,000km on renewable energy to offset production CO2 deficit
Owners of the BMW i3 battery electric vehicle need to use renewable energy for 50,000km before it can even out the CO2 production deficit compared with the production of a petrol-powered 1 Series.
OWNERS OF the BMW i3 battery electric vehicle (BEV) must power their vehicle with renewable electricity for 50,000km before it can level out the production-CO2 deficit over a petrol-powered 1 Series hatch, a key executive at BMW has revealed.
This week BMW Australia has played host to key decision makers from the company’s Munich headquarter in an ‘international mobility forum’ dubbed 2018 BMW Group Dialogues where presentations were made to business, government and university stakeholders. Previously held in Hangzhou, China, as well as Chicago, US, and Milan, Italy, for this year’s event Melbourne played host to discussions around future trends and tech.
The discussions centred around what the challenges are for urban mobility in Australia, compared with other countries, what are the reasons for the divergence, and how can car manufacturers help with mobility. Held at Swinburne University of Technology, the BMW Group also program where the top five students who outline their ideal future mobility city will each win 1000 Euros and be hosted at BMW Group headquarters/R&D in Munich.
However, following the conclusion of the forum, BMW Group vice president of sustainability and environmental protection Ursula Mathar, and communications spokesperson Kai Zobelein, told Practical Motoring that in the future efforts will continue to be made to reduce the significant CO2 emissions used to dig up materials and produce i3 battery packs.
“We are looking at the overall impact across the lifecycle of our cars, and that means we are following certain standards by the International Standard Organisation to do so, and we know that the parts who have the biggest impact of part of the lifecycle are very different when you compare an [internal] combustion engine car with an electric car,” Mathar said.
“With the combustion-engine car, you have the major impact in the used phase. When you use and burn the petrol. And when you have an electric car, you have during the used phase you have electricity from renewables.
“[But] you have the major impact in the supply chain. And that mainly is the battery. So, how do we or our suppliers produce the battery cells, what kind of energy is used, and … we’re looking at if it’s renewable energy and if the materials used are readily recycled.”
The upshot is that a BMW 1 Series hatch requires fewer manufacturing emissions to be produced, but it will then burn fossil fuels for the remainder of its lifecycle. Although the BMW i3 is produced in a CO2-neutral manufacturing facility run entirely by renewable energy, the 111 cells in its 94Ah battery are comprised of equal parts nickel, cobalt and manganese that must be dug out of the ground and produced into a seal-tight battery pack.
Mathar admits that BMW Group only has some control over how “suppliers” produce already expensive battery packs, and it will take 50,000km of zero-emissions driving before the i3 can offset its production CO2 emissions compared with the 1 Series. However, a lifecycle analysis to three times figure that places the electric vehicle (EV) ahead by a half.
“Actually, we compare the i3 with the 1 Series and we look at a lifecycle 150,000 kilometres, and over this lifecycle you have this is 50 per cent better when you take electricity from renewables,” Mathar continued.
Zobelein added, “we have 30 per cent better if you are using the ordinary electricity” such as non-renewable electricity, and the ‘break-even’ point with the 1 Series is “we believe at 50,000 kilometres.”
That means if an i3 owner sells the vehicle after three years or 45,000km (with about 15,000km being the national average), only the second owner would reap a CO2 benefit.
He also admitted that an i3 owner was not forced to use renewable electricity to power the vehicle, but “our experience is that most people that buy an electrified vehicle, they do that because they want to drive as environmentally friendly as possible.
“That’s why they try do everything to get renewable energy. It wouldn’t make sense to buy an electric vehicle and then to try to get brown coal energy to charge it.”