Green-Car-Guide.com Greenest Manufacturer of the Year Award


Paul Clarke, Green-Car-Guide.com, with Steve Chater, Corporate Operations Manager, BMW Group UK, with the new BMW 320d Efficient Dynamics

Green-Car-Guide.com Greenest Manufacturer of the Year Award

Green-Car-Guide.com is delighted to announce the winner of the Greenest Manufacturer of the Year Award. This goes to the manufacturer who in our opinion has made the biggest impact in bringing lower emission cars to British car buyers, throughout the course of 2009.

In keeping with Green-Car-Guide’s core philosophy, we’re looking at best-in-class emissions for cars that should also be great to drive – and the cars had to be on sale during the past year.

The shortlist was full of extremely strong contenders, but there can only be one winner, and this year it’s the BMW Group. In fact this is the second time that BMW has won the Green-Car-Guide.com Greenest Manufacturer of the Year Award in three years.

The company was judged to win the Award due to its performance in seven key areas.

1. Greening the entire range

The BMW Group, including MINI, has been introducing its fuel-saving and emissions-reducing EfficientDynamics technologies across its entire range as standard, as opposed to other manufacturers who have created a limited number of ‘green’ models. This means there’s a wide variety of efficient cars, from MINIs through the 1 and 3 Series to the 5 Series, and the result is that the BMW Group continues to lead the industry in reducing emissions across its range.

2. Making green cars desirable

Green models are often acknowledged as coming with some drawbacks, such as in looks or driver enjoyment, but in the cause of being environmentally responsible, people are expected to put up with such sacrifices. Whereas BMW has approached the issue from a different angle; BMWs are first and foremost BMWs, not ‘green’ cars. In other words they are desirable drivers’ cars, predominantly with rear-wheel drive, which is very rare in the world of green cars. They also still look good, rather than having features such as small weedy wheels to tell the world you’re in an eco-special. However the cars are also efficient. Even the four-wheel drive models have EfficientDynamics technologies applied, as do the fun-to-drive front-wheel drive MINIs.

3. Improving performance as well as economy

Whilst some other manufacturers have also made an effort to make cars lighter and more aerodynamic, so resulting in the cars being faster as well as more economical, there are still ‘green’ cars that suffer in the area of performance, due to factors such as fitting underpowered engines in big cars. In real-life driving this can result in fuel economy suffering as the car has to be driven harder to keep up, it reduces driving enjoyment, and it can even be dangerous when the engine management system is geared towards reducing power, sometimes when you need it most. The statistics of many BMW models are incredible in terms of their combination of low emissions and low fuel consumption together with excellent levels of power, acceleration and top speed.

4. No green price premium

Other manufacturers offer green models but they often come with a price premium, which can impact on their financial viability, whereas BMW aims to make all of its models efficient without a price penalty. The new 320d EfficientDynamics with emissions of just 109g/km CO2 is due to be priced exactly the same as the SE-spec model.

5. Making a difference for high mileage drivers

It has to be acknowledged that there are more affordable cars for sale from other manufacturers, which was a major discussion point for the awards judging panel. However BMW operates in the premium sector, so the purchase price will reflect this, but resale values are good, so resulting in attractive whole-life costs. So while small cars historically have been the most economical choice, BMW has made cars for the higher mileage fleet buyer more efficient. This results in emissions being reduced on a greater scale, in a sector that was traditionally more concerned with power rather than efficiency. And of course lower emission BMWs result in lower costs for companies and their drivers.

6. Sustainability beyond the cars

Statistics can be massaged to prove most viewpoints, however the most commonly accepted figures show that 85% of the energy used in a car’s lifetime is in the fuel it uses, 10% is in its manufacture, and 5% in its end of life recycling. This supports the need for car companies to continually improve the economy of their products. However the sustainability of the car companies themselves must also be looked at. In reality it’s actually very difficult to obtain the detail to compare the sustainability of car companies accurately on a like-for-like basis. But the Dow Jones Sustainability Index aims to get close to this, and BMW is unique to be named the “Most sustainable car company in the world” in the 2009 Index for the fifth year in a row. BMW and MINI have also been involved in other initiatives such as partnering with the Energy Saving Trust to provide a fleet of cars to support its ‘Smarter Driving’ programme.

7. A complete package

Yes, BMWs are efficient, and are designed to be drivers’ cars. However if these were the only strong points of the brand’s cars, this wouldn’t be enough to win our award. The fact is, the BMW Group has been the recipient of many other awards and acknowledgements throughout the last 12 months to prove it offers well-rounded products. Such accolades include the BMW Group model range being voted the most reliable in the UK in the FN50 reliability survey, undertaken by Fleet News and financial consultants Grant Thornton.

In summary

BMW has been a leader in improving the efficiency of cars over recent years. Due to the reasons above, we’re delighted to crown the BMW Group as the Green-Car-Guide.com Greenest Manufacturer of the Year.

The challenge is for BMW to maintain its lead in the face of growing competition from other manufacturers. The company has shown that its commitment to improving efficiency has been good for business; we hope that this inspires a healthy state of competition in the industry to result in motorists being offered an increasingly wide range of efficient cars.

Paul Clarke