Environmental issues take centre stage at BMW Annual Press Dinner

The BMW Group Annual Press Dinner took place in London last week, at which Jim O’Donnell, Managing Director of BMW (UK) Ltd, delivered a speech about BMW’s year. Amazingly, more than half the speech was devoted to environmental issues.

It was acknowledged that the automotive world is turning green incredibly quickly. Comparison was made with BMW events in the past when power and performance were always the main issues of focus. Today it’s CO2 emissions and fuel consumption.

Jim talked about the EU legislation for CO2 emissions; once negotiated this will form the basis of product development. Concern was raised about the government’s tax policy towards larger cars, including the impact this would have on traditional British brands such as Jaguar and Land Rover, and government policy about the surcharge on diesel was questioned – as this will make it more expensive than petrol despite its better CO2 performance.

The new London Congestion Charge proposals were also looked at. Calculations showed that charging £25 per day for cars emitting over 225g/km would result in a saving of just 8100 tonnes of CO2 per year – which equates to three hours of emissions from Heathrow.

Jim then moved on to looking at what BMW has done to contribute to reducing CO2. He believes that the company’s Efficient Dynamics programme – using technology such as brake energy regeneration, engine stop start, and electric steering, has been responsible for significant CO2 savings without losing the BMW brand character. Each new car equipped with Efficient Dynamics has seen its CO2 output cut by an average of 26g/km. Sales of BMW cars in the UK with Efficient Dynamics will reach at least 109,000 units in 2008 and will account for a saving of 45,720 tonnes of carbon in the UK alone.

This year 87% of all BMWs sold in the UK (156 models) emit less than 225g/km. From September 2007 onwards, this proportion rises to 95% or 210 models. And the share of BMW sales under 140g/km will rise from 14% in 2007 to 42% in 2008. Plus the 104g/km MINI Cooper D – and the Clubman D at 109g/km – along with the 118d, fall below the 120g/km level. The brand also has a second generation hybrid to come – and development is continuing with hydrogen.

The speech confirmed that the environment is a big issue for BMW and other car makers – and that progress is being made with solutions that car buyers want.