BMW Group to source aluminum from sustainable production

The BMW Group intends to source aluminum with significantly reduced CO2 emissions from Rio Tinto’s hydro-powered operations in Canada starting in 2024. It has signed a memorandum of understanding to this effect.

Aluminum accounts for a quarter of the CO2 emissions in the supply chain of a medium-sized electrified car, and a manufacturer like BMW needs some 600 000 tons of it every year.

From 2024, the BMW US plant in Spartanburg will source more than 10% of its aluminum from sustainable production in Canada. Compared to conventionally produced aluminum, the production in Canada causes around 70% fewer CO2 emissions.

“We have clear goals for lowering CO2 emissions in the supply chain. By using innovative materials, we can reduce our vehicles’ carbon footprint, even before handing them over to customers,” explains Joachim Post, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for Purchasing and Supplier Network.

“The agreement to supply low-carbon aluminum is based on several pillars: in addition to hydroelectric power and a high percentage of secondary material, we also want to lead the automotive industry by ramping up our use of aluminum with no direct CO2 emissions from the smelting process.”

Aluminum is important

Owing to its comparatively low weight and other favorable material properties, aluminum occupies a firm place in the BMW Group’s ‘intelligent composite construction.

Around a quarter of the CO2 emissions are attributable to aluminum in the supply chain of a mid-sized fully-electric vehicle. This underlines the tremendous potential of reducing CO2 in the aluminum supply chain.

The Elysis technology developed for aluminum production is revolutionizing the smelting process required for manufacturing by generating oxygen instead of carbon dioxide.

The innovative method uses carbon-free anodes to eliminate all process-related CO2 emissions and was successfully tested at an industrial level for the first time in 2021. As a result, the BMW Group intends to become one of the first customers to use this technology in standard production.

In addition to the carbon-free process, the agreement also covers aluminum alloys produced using electricity from renewable energy sources, with CO2 emissions that are only a third of the industry average.

The aluminum production facilities in Quebec run almost entirely on electricity from six local hydroelectric power stations. As a further contribution to resource conservation, recycled content will be mixed in with the end product to reach up to 50% secondary material potentially.

“The use of Rio Tinto’s blockchain technology also guarantees full traceability of the aluminum, all the way back to the original bauxite mine,” says the BMW press release. “This enables end-to-end transparency throughout the supply chain and, therefore, plays an essential part in tracking compliance with environmental and social standards for extraction of raw materials.”


BMW’s South-Carolina-based plant in Spartanburg will thus be the first to use the aluminum mentioned above. For the ninth consecutive year, according to data released by the US Department of Commerce, BMW Manufacturing led the nation in automotive exports by value.

The South Carolina plant exported 227 029 BMW Sports Activity Vehicles and Coupes during 2022, with an export value of nearly $9,6 billion. The BMWs produced at Plant Spartanburg were exported through the Port of Charleston (more than 182 000 units) and five other southeastern ports. In addition, more than 17 000 BMWs were exported via rail.

“Free trade and open markets enable growth and prosperity. BMW and South Carolina are a good example of this,” said Milan Nedeljković, BMW AG Board Member for Production. “I am proud of the Spartanburg plant’s continued performance, which contributes to the success of the BMW Group.”

The team at Plant Spartanburg produced 416 301 Sports Activity Vehicles and Coupes during 2022, the second-highest production total in the plant’s history. In 2022, 69 200 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles rolled off the assembly line, representing 16,6% of the plant’s total volume.

The year’s most significant highlight for the plant was the BMW Group’s announcement of its electromobility plan in the United States. In October, BMW CEO Oliver Zipse announced a $1,7 billion investment, including $1 billion to prepare the plant for the production of fully-electric vehicles and $700 million to build a high-voltage battery assembly facility in Woodruff, close to the factory. By 2030, the BMW Group plans to build at least six fully-electric models in the United States.

Spartanburg in the US is one of BMW’s most important plants and the most important car exporter of the States /BMW


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