March 2, 2024

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Building Cars, People First

Don’t scrap old cars, keep them running: BMW’s head of sustainability

Don’t scrap old cars, keep them running: BMW’s head of sustainability

As much as we love swanky new cars, we have to admit that they do drain out the wallets and also have an impact on the environment. With every passing day, cars are getting much more expensive and changing them ever so often is not a sustainable thing to do. And this exact sentiment was recently shared by BMW’s sustainability Cheif during a media interaction as well. And so, keep old cars healthy and keep them running longer?

The Indian government which wants you to scrap your old cars is not going to like this, for sure.

BMW’s sustainability team lead, Monika Dernai, while speaking at a panel discussion on the topic of creating a circular economy, said that the auto industry could cut waste by encouraging consumers to maintain their current vehicles and improve them to keep them current rather than always purchasing new ones. Dernai stated, “We really need to think about prolonging the life of cars; not having a used car market where you sell cars to each other, but maybe take a car and extend its lifespan,”

Further commenting on how customers can refresh their old cars instead of buying the latest and greatest cars, she said, “We need new skill sets in the aftermarket and to design cars so that the seat can be removed and a fresh seat can be moved in – then it’s a used car that looks like a new car. It can have the same owner, who then doesn’t buy a new car, but we still have a business model as BMW and the whole of society benefits from that.”

Dernai asserted that there is still a demand for automobile ownership despite her suggestion that the auto industry would need to adapt in order to be compatible with a circular economy. “Can we actually just move everybody to public transport?” she said, “Can we actually just move everybody to public transport?” she said. “I think the answer is no. You’re worried about the public transport in the UK, but if you look at the US it’s even more desolate. So I think there’s still a market for cars out there.”

Speaking of the environmental impact of automobiles, back in June of this year, the CEO of Renault Luca de Meo stated his thoughts that he believes the entire auto industry rushing toward an all-electric future could hurt the environment. He said that moving hastily could have undesired consequences on the entire world climate.

Meo during a summit organized by the Financial Times where leaders from major automakers were present said, “The first thing I want to say is that Renault is very committed to electric cars. We started here quite early, and we still believe that electric vehicles and perhaps hydrogen could be a good solution for some applications. But if we look at the data, it becomes clear that sales of combustion engines – including hybrids – have not yet reached their peak. There are challenges across social, financial and environmental perspectives that must be considered.”

He further added that although EVs are suitable for a large number of buyers to fulfil 85 percent of their daily usage they will not be suitable for the occasional long journeys. Meanwhile, Meo also stated that lifetime CO2 emissions of EVs need to be closely considered. He went on to add, “Then there is the lifetime CO2 – the cradle-to-grave figure – for a car, the answer to which is not so obvious. Some alternative fuels, or hybrids, can be cleaner than EVs on these measurements, and then there is the financial accessibility of EVs. We see price parity around 2025, but now that might have moved because of raw material inflation.”