Currently reading: Opinion: Will BMW lead the charge with reusable cars?
New concept shows ambitious plan to close the supply chain loop, but the environmental impact of cars goes far beyond their material make-up
Autocar-Felix-Page
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2 mins read
6 September 2021

Whether or not the design of BMW's future products will be universally appealing is not a matter for the here and now; the column inches on this subject are now more like miles, and it's becoming increasingly irrelevant as the cars evolve.

What's more remarkable about the firm's i Vision Circular concept (and let's not beat around the bush here – it's not a stunner) is the message it sends: sooner or later, cars are going to have to be viewed and legislated as the consumer products they are, when you boil it down, and that means they've got to be recyclable.

Munich motor show 2021: all new cars and updates

You can't justify tutting at single-use bottle users and non-composters if you drive a new or nearly-new car, because the adverse environmental impact of the modern motor vehicle extends far beyond the noxious fumes that come out of its exhaust - or the precious metals in its battery.

Seats, switches, tyres, windows, infotainment systems: these are all elements that consume vast amount of resources and energy in their production, making for pretty grim reading on the subject of environmental impact per car. What BMW keeps repeating - and what it is showing with this new concept in Munich - is that it could soon be possible to make cars not just carbon-neutral, but effectively of no net impact to the environment whatsoever.

It's a common theme at Munich motor show this year: how can we continue to use cars, such as they are, without worsening and accelerating the effects of climate change? BMW's plans involve building cars out of secondary aluminium (unpainted, of course) and furnishing their interiors with recycled plastic - which is a start, but the sheer size of the company's global production, shipping and retail network makes you wonder if such measures will even be a drop in the ocean.

It all comes back to the old argument of well-to-wheel emissions, so BMW will need to be serious about overhauling its entire supply chain if it is to make good on the eco-friendly messaging of its new-era cars. Then there's the not-insignificant matter of how to generate truly 'clean' energy for these vehicles...

Reducing, reusing and recycling – an ethos we've probably all been adhering to for years in our own homes – is coming to the automotive industry in a big way, and it will be interesting to see just how quickly big firms like BMW will be able to "close the loop". 

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scrap 6 September 2021

Ultimately the car industry will have to move towards more sustainable production or it will die. Keeping old cars on the road is, for now, the most sustainable approach, even accounting for local emissions. It's a shame our tax system doesn't recognise this.

Peter Cavellini 6 September 2021

Judging by the concepts here that are in some form due in the next few years, the body shape is going to be based on interior space more rather than the Car looking appealing, so, its Fridge/Freezer looks more and more, with the inside being a mobile computer desk come entertainment room come Chat room where we'll do the same as at home, all in the same room but not talking , looking at each other.