BMW Group is consistently advancing the transformation towards circularity

Using recycled material reduces carbon emissions during production by up to 75 percent

The BMW Group is again leading the way in terms of the circular economy. The new MINI Cooper SE Convertible (combined power consumption: 17.2kWh/100 km according to WLTP; carbon emissions: 0 g/km) will be the first series model to be produced with alloy wheels that are made entirely from recycled aluminium.

„As premium manufacturer we entrenched sustainability in the development from very early on”, said Dr. Nicolai Martin, Senior Vice President Development Automated Driving. „The light alloy wheels of the fully electric open-top four-seater are a prime example of sustainable resource use, and they represent an important milestone on the road to circular economy for the BMW Group.”

The first use of 100 percent secondary aluminium for light-alloy wheels on a series-production vehicle is in cooperation with the wheel manufacturer Ronal. The consistent use of recycled aluminium not only conserves raw material sources, but also eliminates the particularly energy-intensive electrolysis process that is normally necessary to produce light alloys.

Re:think – reinventing the wheel.
The BMW Group is pushing ahead with the successful implementation of a circular economy in accordance with the four basic principles to Re:think, Re:duce, Re:use and Re:cycle, with development of the first 100 percent recycled aluminium alloy wheels consistently aligned with these tenets.

As the world’s first open-top fully electric premium car to be produced in a small series, it is not only the alloy wheels but the new MINI Cooper SE Convertible as a whole, which has been completely rethought in terms of sustainability.

The combination of a light support wheel made from 100 percent recycled aluminium with aerodynamically optimised real metal inlays as well as an innovatively designed centre cap offers a unique selling point that clearly sets the model apart from the competition.

Made entirely from recycled light alloy, the support wheel completely meets the structural requirements and high quality standards of the BMW Group, while the inlays optimise the aerodynamic properties of the vehicle, thereby increasing the range of the MINI Cooper SE Convertible. In other words, the innovative alloy wheels contribute to reducing the vehicle’s carbon footprint in multiple respects – both in production and while driving.

Re:duce – significant carbon reductions from using recycled aluminium.
With the use of secondary materials that have a carbon footprint of less than 0.16 kg of carbon per kilogram of aluminium, the wheel supplier has been able to reduce carbon emissions at its production facility by up to 75 percent compared to conventionally produced wheels. In concrete terms, this means carbon emissions falling from around 130 kg to around 30 kilograms.

The outstanding aerodynamic properties and lightweight design of the innovative alloy wheels also make a difference on the road, with the complete enclosure of the wheel exterior by the inlays significantly decreasing drag. The weight-optimised design reduces the unsprung masses of the vehicle as a whole, boosting efficiency and enabling the MINI Cooper SE Convertible to deliver the go-kart feel that is so typical of the brand.

Re:use – recyclability makes it possible to forgo primary aluminium.
The consistent implementation of circular economy principles has turned the joy of sustainability into a lived experience for the MINI community. Drivers of the MINI Cooper SE Convertible with recycled aluminium alloy wheels are part of a pilot project aimed at gradually reducing demand for primary raw materials. The alloy wheels on the MINI Cooper SE Convertible can also be fully recycled at the end of their lifecycle. Participating in this circularity enables the BMW Group to continually reduce the amount of aluminium that needs to be produced by means of an energy-intensive primary energy process.

Re:cycle – Premium-quality recycled aluminium wheels.
Secondary raw materials must also fulfil the BMW Group’s high standards for quality, design, safety and mechanical properties.

With the alloy wheels on the MINI Cooper SE Convertible, the BMW Group has succeeded in establishing a material cycle for premium quality wheels for the first time, paving the way for repeated use of the raw material.

The use of 100 percent recycled aluminium wheels in a small series is the first proof of feasibility for the ambitious sustainability goals regarding the circular economy. At the same time, the world premiere of the MINI Cooper SE Convertible sets the scene for scaling up the innovative production process for use in future large series models.

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