Dr. Thomas Becker, Vice President Sustainability and Mobility Strategy BMW Group

Decarbonization Strategy:  “Can you share insights into BMW Group’s decarbonization journey in the transport industry? How has the company approached this transformation, and what key milestones have been achieved so far?” 

BMW Group is part of the Business Ambition for 1.5°C and the United Nations’ Race to Zero, ensuring we’re responsible for our part in meeting the commitments set out in the Paris Agreement. Sustainability is at the centre of our strategic direction.

To give you a sense of where we are in our decarbonization journey – by 2030, we will reduce CO2 emissions per car in its usage by half from 2019 levels and at least half of all cars we sell worldwide will be fully electric in the same timeframe. This includes direct emissions from combustion engines as well as indirect emissions from electricity generation. We also look at the whole lifecycle of our vehicles. Our target is to reduce CO2 emissions per vehicle by 40% across the range and throughout the entire lifecycle, from the supply chain through production to the end of the use phase.

Technological innovation has been a significant part of our transformation and decarbonization. In 2025 we will introduce our NEUE KLASSE to the market, with a new generation of batteries that use more secondary material and have higher energy density, charging speed and range, as well as generating less CO2 in their production than today’s batteries. The NEUE KLASSE has been designed comprehensively with a view to reduce the CO2 footprint of its supply chain.

Our focus on circularity and closed-loop systems has already reduced our need for raw materials and the associated emissions. Our ‘Secondary First’ approach aims to successively increase this figure to 50 per cent. 

In our manufacturing plants, we’re striving to replace natural gas as fast as possible with renewable energies. And we’re making progress with our supply partners towards delivering on our ambitious decarbonization targets. 

We don’t yet have all the answers and there’s no doubt that decarbonizing in the urgent time frame required is a major task, but we’re hungry to get there and to keep developing new and pioneering ways to reduce our carbon footprint – from EVs, to hydrogen to recycled materials. 

EV Technological Innovations:  “Given the rapid evolution of electric vehicle (EV) technology, how is BMW Group innovating to stay at the forefront? Could you discuss any specific technological advancements or features that set BMW’s electric vehicles apart, emphasizing transparency in communicating these innovations to consumers?” 

From 2025 onwards, our NEUE KLASSE range of cars will have a new generation of battery and a trailblazing approach to both the use of recycled parts and ultimate vehicle recyclability. 

This year, around two-thirds of our investments will flow into future technologies such as electromobility, including hydrogen. For us, the next technical step is a second generation of the hydrogen fuel cell drive train for our BMW iX5 Hydrogen model (based on our BMW X5 model) that was first produced in 2022. Our pilot fleet of iX5 hydrogen cars is currently being tested all around the world, and we’re investigating the possibility of launching a mass production hydrogen car before the end of this decade. 

As a premium manufacturer, it’s important we’re clear in communicating these innovations with our customers. We want to take them on our decarbonization journey with us because we believe premium and sustainability will be inseparable in the future. Transparency is key here, especially when it comes to explaining how these innovations will help us with our targets and net zero commitments. Starting with the new 5 series, our vehicle footprint tool will provide clear information about key sustainability performance indicators, thus meeting the increasing customer demand for transparency beyond regulatory requirements.

Hydrogen’s Potential:  “Hydrogen is gaining attention as a potential green energy source. How does BMW Group view the role of hydrogen in the decarbonization of the transport industry, and what implications might this have for EU markets in the coming years?” 

With bold emissions targets on the horizon, we can’t leave hydrogen behind. It’s important that we pursue all available avenues in the green transition and the opportunities presented by hydrogen – together with EVs – are huge.

We believe it will play a role as a fuel in global and EU markets in the future – and that hydrogen will create more zero and low-emission choices for consumers and play a critical role in road transport decarbonisation. 

Hydrogen fuel cell technology could become a key pillar in the BMW Group’s portfolio of drive trains. The reduced charging time and increased range offer a practical solution for vehicles – both HGVs and passenger vehicles – where electric batteries don’t support all the mobility needs of users. With over 40 years of experience in hydrogen technology and more than 20 years in hydrogen fuel cell technology, we’re in a strong position to share what we’ve learned to drive wider positive change. 

Technology Openness:  “In the pursuit of decarbonization, collaboration and openness to new technologies are crucial. How is BMW Group fostering collaboration and embracing technological openness, both within the company and through external partnerships, to drive sustainable solutions in the transport sector?” 

At BMW Group, we take an open technology and innovation approach to deliver new mobility solutions. This means we unlock the innovation potential of startups, cross-industry technologies and entrepreneurs. This is essential not just for finding new solutions but keeping on the path to meeting our decarbonisation and circularity commitments. 

Another key element of our open technology approach is the use of different drive trains. Electrification is very much the focus for the next few years, not least as it will help ensure carbon reduction targets for 2030 are met, but we expect hydrogen to have a role in the future too, particularly with haulage, longer distances and for locations where the electric charging infrastructure is less developed.

The upcoming NEUE KLASSE will be a major technological leap forward for the BMW Group in electric drive systems. It is the clear focal point of our investments for the future and integrates the next-generation electric drive train, as well as the electrical system/electronics infrastructure, demonstrating technology’s role in new mobility solutions.

Challenges and Opportunities:  “As the transport industry undergoes a significant transformation, what challenges and opportunities does BMW Group foresee in the decarbonization journey? How is the company navigating potential obstacles and leveraging opportunities to drive positive change?” 

The new technologies we’re developing are just one piece of the decarbonization puzzle. The other pieces are mileage. Data shows that at the moment in markets like Europe, the average age of the car on the road is going up and not down. 

This means that policies that accelerate the migration to newer technologies are highly important, alongside finding ways to lower the CO2 footprint of the fuels that will still be going into combustion engine cars for a long time to come. It’s not an either/or situation. We need all of it combined.

We have to work in partnership. Just to give one crucial example, infrastructure. If you look at the pace of electrification in different markets, you find a direct relationship with the availability of public charging infrastructure. Through our IONITY joint venture together with other car makers, we’re helping to take fast, high-powered charging to the main motorways. But we can’t bring it to the roadside in inner cities, for example. So here we need other players to take responsibility too. 

The need for government and businesses to work more closely together to develop infrastructure is urgent. In the EU, we have a big difference in EV uptake between countries. We need stronger collaboration in those markets that aren’t as fast as they could be, to make it clear that electric driving is a choice that’s supported, not just in terms of financial incentives but also in terms of certainty that you can use it on a day to day basis.

Consumer Adoption and Education:  “Consumer awareness and education play a crucial role in the widespread adoption of electric vehicles. How is BMW Group working to educate consumers about the benefits of electric mobility, and what initiatives are in place to encourage broader acceptance and understanding?”

From 2022 to 2023, BMW Group increased sales of fully electric vehicles by +74.4%. By 2030, 50% of all the cars we sell will be electric.

In our efforts to increase take up of EVs, we’re working across the lifecycle of our vehicles to improve efficiencies in production and the supply chain to help bring the cost of EVs down. We’re investing in charging infrastructure across the world. 

BMW Group is also assuring it will not lose a single employee in the transition from combustion engines to electric models. And we’re investing heavily in our communities and people across the world. In 2021, the BMW Group invested around €389 million in training and development for its employees. More than 75,000 attendees developed skills in fields related to sustainability, empowering them to help shape our green transformation.

We view the green transition as an opportunity to provide existing employees with new skills and the chance to learn new trades and to create jobs that give young people opportunities to develop in an evolving sector.