The controversially designed BMW iX may mark a new generation of electrified vehicles for the German automaker, but it’s not just the car itself that’s green. BMW conducted a “well-to-wheel” energy analysis in the manufacture of the vehicle, making the car as socially responsible as possible from the time raw materials are gathered.
The company has gone through considerable effort to make sure its resource-gathering has been done with the environment, human rights and recyclability in mind. For example, the cobalt used in batteries are mined from non-conflict regions. BMW obtains both cobalt and lithium themselves, then gives the material to their suppliers as to guarantee they are ethically sourced.
Perhaps the biggest concession comes in the form of BMW’s eDrive electric motors, now in their fifth generation. While most EV motors use magnets, which require difficult-to-mine rare-earth metals, BMW’s use electromagnetic fields, thus cutting out a potentially problematic supply chain. Of course, it doesn’t hurt BMW that its manufacturing is not dependent on a potentially difficult to obtain item (see: semiconductor shortage).
Even traditional materials, like aluminum, are sourced from a UAE company that produces it using partial solar power. The iX’s electric wood control panel is made from sustainably grown trees. Natural wood fibers are used to make part of the Loft Stone Grey interior. And if you must choose cowhide for your seats, the leather is treated with an extract from olive leaves obtained during pruning in olive groves, instead of normal (and toxic) tanning agents.
Carpets and floor mats use synthetic yarn produced from recycled nylon harvested in part from reclaimed fishing nets and residual waste from plastics manufacturing. BMW says recycled plastics produce 80% less C02 than if the were to use petroleum-based nylon. Furthermore, many parts of the car, including the cowl panel cover, door panels, bumper guides, front bumper surround, cable ducts, and tailgate paneling are use recycled plastic, at least in part. Overall, 20% of the car’s plastic is recycled, which totals about 132 pounds’ worth.
The sustainability efforts extend to the actual manufacturing as well. BMW says that from 2006 to 2019, it was able to cut out more than 70% of CO2 emissions from its production. By 2025, emissions will be reduced by another 40%. Part of this savings comes from the fact that manufacturing of the iX at BMW’s Dingolfing plant uses only local hydroelectric power.
Upstream suppliers that BMW works with have also pledged to use renewable energy.
The iX xDrive50 also implements many functions to save and recuperate energy during its life. For instance, if GPS is in use, the car will increase the rate of regeneration of its 200kWh battery if the car’s slowing toward an intersection. While on a highway, taking your foot off the pedal will initiate a coast. If GPS is off, it will still read cues where the car might be slowing significantly, such as flipping on a turn signal during coasting, and initiate regeneration. It has a whole host of other ways to guess your behavior as well with iDrive 8. Still, the iX xDrive50 is no slouch. BMW claims a 0-60 time of less than 5 seconds with an electronically governed top speed of 124 mph.
The BMW iX xDrive50 is expected to launch in early 2022, but BMW is taking orders starting in June of this year. While the best way to conserve is probably to keep driving your old E28 until it disintegrates, if you must have a new car the iX can weigh a bit less on your conscience.