BMW’s venture into sustainability

by Patrick Lenihan, Fordham University student.

Tadgh O’Conner is a representative for BMWi, a division of BMW that is challenging internal combustion engines car use with its release of the i3 and i8 who spoke in Professor Pirson’s Sustainable Business class. Tadgh detailed the investment and innovation required by BMW to create its electric fleet because they believed sustainability was an essential part to successful future business ventures.

Building an electric car from the ground up was no easy feat and the required socially responsible innovation if BMW wanted to maintain its goal of sustainability. BMW had to reduce an ICE’s weight to increase range on an electric vehicle. They found their answer when the BMW i3 was retrofitted with a light carbon-reinforced plastic body that significantly reduced its weight. Typically, the composite material for carbon-reinforced plastic creates scrap material that is difficult to reuse, but BMW mitigated this loss of raw material by using clean hydro electricity to power its plant. This process avoided the use of natural gas which is better than coal-powered but still not truly sustainable. The BMW i3 conquered other traditional electric vehicle models mission of sustainability.

The BMW i3, a completely electric vehicle, was brought on campus in the A-lot of Fordham University to let students test drive the vehicle. During the experience students were able to notice the slight changes that accompanied the i3 from an ICE. To the students surprise, the i3 was not less capable than the ICE: the vehicle was two feet shorter than a traditional BMW sedan but did not sacrifice the feeling of interior space, acceleration was relative quick from 0 to 60 in 7.4 seconds and it handled as if it were part of another sedan series from BMW.

A significant challenge for BMWi is to understand how to market their new electric vehicle, specifically in an urban environment, when consumers have range anxiety, fear of the lack of infrastructure and lack of space due to the trend of individuals migrating towards cities. Tadgh has enlisted Fordham University students help in Professor Pirson’s Sustainable Business class to assist BMWi in confronting some of these pertinent problems in an increasingly urban environment.