BMW to Build an Electric 5-Series as Part of its New Company-wide Initiative to Reduce CO2

BMW to Build an Electric 5-Series as Part of its New Company-wide Initiative to Reduce CO2

Author: Eric Walz   

As electric automaker Tesla has become the world's most valuable automaker, legacy auto makers are busy playing catch up and are actively making plans to build more electric vehicles. In Europe, automakers and companies are also working to reduce CO2 output as part of their electrification plans and compliance with the 2016 Paris Agreement to fight global warming.

Today, German automaker BMW Group announced its roadmap for reducing CO2 output, but also shared some of its electrification plans.

The company announced it will develop a fully electric 5-series as part of its new, company-wide sustainability initiative, which includes producing a greater number of fully-electric cars in the next decade. The plan also includes reducing emissions at the automaker's production facilities.

BMW says that two thirds of its vehicles will be fully-electric by 2030. However Chairman of the Board of Management Oliver Zipse did not say when the new electric 5-Series will be launched.

"In ten years, the goal is to have a total of more than seven million electrified BMW Group vehicles on the roads – around two thirds of them with a fully-electric drivetrain," the automaker said.

BMW says it will have 25 electrified models on the roads by 2023, half of them fully electric.

By next year, BMW said it will offer five fully-electric cars, including the BMW i3, the MINI Cooper SE, the BMW iX3, the futuristic BMW iNEXT and the BMW i4 sedan.


BMW is building an electric 5-Series sedan as part of its electrification push.

Future BMW Vehicles Will Use 48-Volt Technology

As part of the automaker's "Efficient Dynamics" strategy, BMW Group will also continue to reduce the fuel consumption and the efficiency of its conventional drive trains with the use of 48-volt vehicle technology.

BMW also confirmed that its upcoming flagship 7-Series will offer 4 highly efficient powertrain configurations. The 7-Series will be powered by diesel or a gas engine with 48-volt technology. The 7-Series will include a mild-hybrid and fully-electric version.

The 5 Series will also be available as a fully-electric, plug-in hybrid, diesel and gas. The upcoming 5-Series will also include 48-volt technology.

The 48-volt technology offers reduced emissions by replacing mechanical components like the alternator and starter with a mild-hybrid starter generator, which helps to reduce engine loads. The mild-hybrid starter generator is connected via a belt to the crankshaft of the internal combustion engine and can generate energy to power the vehicle's electronics.

Many 48-volt electrical systems use engine start-stop technology to shut off the engine and switch to electric mode when the engine power is not needed, such as when coasting down a hill or when stopped at a red light. During this time the 48 volt battery used to supply power to the rest of the vehicle.

BMW also said its management compensation will be tied to compliance to the automaker's climate targets, which includes reducing carbon emissions by 80% per vehicle from its supply chain and factories. BMW Group aims for the most sustainable supply chain in the auto industry. BMW's supply chain includes around 12,000 partners.

"CO2 must be reduced in partnership between manufacturers and suppliers. If you want to convince partners, you must act as a role model. As a leader in sustainability, what we say counts a great deal with our suppliers – so we leverage our reputation in this respect," said Zipse.

Among the initiatives to reduce CO2 output are the production of electric vehicle batteries, which the automaker says is an energy intensive manufacturing process.  BMW says that without corrective measures CO2 emissions per vehicle from the company's supply chain would actually increase by one third over the next decade, even though the company will be producing fewer internal combustion engine vehicles.

BMW said it has already reached a contractual agreement with its battery cell manufacturers that they will only use green power to produce the automaker's fifth-generation battery cells. This initiative is expected to reduce around ten million tons of CO2 over the next ten years.

In addition to more green power battery production, BMW plans to boost the recycling of electric vehicle batteries. The European Union currently requires a recycling rate of only 50% for high-voltage EV batteries. However, BMW said it partnered with German recycling specialist Duesenfeld to develop a method that can achieve a recycling rate of up to 96%, including graphite and electrolytes.

BMW said it accepts all used BMW high-voltage batteries worldwide for recycling, although the company is not legally required to do so.

BMW also plans to further reduce CO2 by factoring in a supplier's carbon footprint in its contract award processes. Suppliers and companies with a lower carbon footprint will be favored and are more likely to secure a supply deal with the automaker. 

BMW's electrification push comes as California automaker Tesla has risen to become the world's most valuable automaker. BMW's upcoming iX3 electric SUV will compete with the Tesla Model Y crossover, although BMW announced in March that its not coming to the U.S., at least for now. 

BMW's iX4 sedan however is coming to the U.S. in 2020 and will rival the mass-market Tesla Model 3, which has become one of the world's best-selling electric cars. 

During the first half of 2020, Tesla was the third best selling EV brand in Germany, with BMW's rival Volkswagen taking the top spot. Therefore, BMW is already facing tough competition on its home turf as the company pursues its electrification plans.

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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