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BMW Gets Greener

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On: Mon, Jan 20, 2014 at 4:46PM | By: Karen Cook

BMW Gets Greener

There is a wide range of options for car manufacturers to make their vehicles greener. Most of the research is obviously geared toward electric power instead of gasoline, but there are less obvious changes that can be made to a car’s interior which is also beneficial to the planet. BMW leads the way toward a greener future.

The i3 is a small passenger vehicle, with an aerodynamic design and opposing doors, which operates on an emission-free and almost silent eDrive power train. BMW prides itself on using as many high quality sustainable materials as possible which have enabled them to push the recyclable percentage up to 95% as opposed to the 80-90% achieved previously.

Kenaf (a hemp-like material) is used on the door panels of the i3; kenaf is normally used only as a filler and covered up with vinyl or leather. BMW also uses eucalyptus for its wood accents on the dash. Eucalyptus grows very quickly and is easily replenished which makes it more environmentally friendly than other woods. The light-colored woodgrain requires very little chemical treatment and deepens over time to a rich honey color. This minimal approach to interior design has been avoided by other manufacturers so as not to have an “unfinished” appearance. Jose Guerrero, the US i product manager, compares the fresh new look to a New York City loft which often uses exposed brick instead of drywall.

The big news in the new i3, however, is the seating. Manufacturers have toyed with the idea of thinner seats in the past but, until now, none have been brave enough to try them, fearing car buyers will view them as uncomfortable or unsafe. Seats are designed for safety—they have the capability of protecting passengers in a crash. BMW had to redesign the side airbags to fit with the thinner seats. The benefit of the new seats is that there is far more room inside the vehicle and rear passengers have more legroom. The rear seat has been designed to allow all rear passengers to exit the vehicle on the right to avoid traffic. The driver has to fend for himself. In keeping with the New York loft idea, this car has been made for urban environments.

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