BMW chief executive Norbert Reithofer reaffirmed last week the carmaker’s commitment to new technology, particularly electric drive. In a statement supplementing BMW's results for the third quarter of 2012, Reithofer said that the carmaker considers electric mobility as a technology with the potential to achieve “emission-free driving pleasure."
The carmaker is set to launch its small i3 electric vehicle in 2013. In the same statement, Reithofer remarked that "BMW is far more than electric drive," taking note of the carmaker’s efforts to use recycled materials and provide for end-of-life recycling. Aside from that, the German carmaker is also adopting renewable energy in production. At first look, regulatory pressure for lower carbon dioxide emissions as well as higher fuel economy pose quite a challenge for BMW, which business model entails strong profits from building luxurious vehicles.
However, global demographic trends show that carmakers cannot postpone their sustainability efforts further. Car manufacturers are considering projections by the United Nations that the world's population will crowd into megacities, which are urban areas with populations of more than 10 million. According to UN’s projects, the world will have 35 megacities by 2015, with a total population of nearly 360 million.
Those cities are expected to become centers of global business, wealth and consumption. And most likely, megacities will be places where vehicle use might be restricted.
Currently, the city of London makes vehicles that drive into the center city to pay a congestion charge of £10. Since megacities have densely packed landscape, carmakers have to develop new forms of mobility. The i3 was a product of the BMW Megacity Project initiated in 2007. BMW is likewise partnering in a car-sharing program, DriveNow, in Germany and San Francisco.