BMW Group’s new MINI Cooper SE Convertible is setting a new standard in sustainability with its innovative alloy wheels made entirely from recycled aluminum. The use of 100% secondary aluminum for the light-alloy wheels of a series-production vehicle is a prime example of sustainable resource use, according to Dr. Nicolai Martin, Senior Vice President Development Automated Driving. The use of recycled aluminum not only conserves raw material sources but also eliminates the particularly energy-intensive electrolysis process that is normally necessary to produce light alloys.
As a premium manufacturer, BMW Group is pushing ahead with the successful implementation of a circular economy, in accordance with the four basic principles to Re:think, Re:duce, Re:use, and Re:cycle. The development of the first 100% recycled aluminum alloy wheels for the MINI Cooper SE Convertible is consistently aligned with these tenets. The combination of a light support wheel made from 100% recycled aluminum with aerodynamically optimized real metal inlays and an innovatively designed center cap offers a unique selling point that sets the model apart from the competition.
The use of secondary materials that have a carbon footprint of less than 0.16 kg of carbon per kilogram of aluminum significantly reduces carbon emissions at the wheel supplier’s production facility by up to 75% compared to conventionally produced wheels. The outstanding aerodynamic properties and lightweight design of the innovative alloy wheels also make a difference on the road, with the complete enclosure of the wheel exterior by the inlays significantly decreasing drag. The weight-optimized design reduces the unsprung masses of the vehicle as a whole, boosting efficiency and enabling the MINI Cooper SE Convertible to deliver the go-kart feel that is so typical of the brand.
The consistent implementation of circular economy principles has turned the joy of sustainability into a lived experience for the MINI community. Drivers of the MINI Cooper SE Convertible with recycled aluminum alloy wheels are part of a pilot project aimed at gradually reducing demand for primary raw materials. The alloy wheels on the MINI Cooper SE Convertible can also be fully recycled at the end of their lifecycle, enabling the BMW Group to continually reduce the amount of aluminum that needs to be produced by means of an energy-intensive primary energy process.
With the alloy wheels on the MINI Cooper SE Convertible, the BMW Group has succeeded in establishing a material cycle for premium quality wheels for the first time, paving the way for repeated use of the raw material. The use of 100% recycled aluminum wheels in a small series is the first proof of feasibility for the ambitious sustainability goals regarding the circular economy. At the same time, the world premiere of the MINI Cooper SE Convertible sets the scene for scaling up the innovative production process for use in future large series models.
The MINI Cooper SE Convertible represents an important milestone on the road to a circular economy for the BMW Group. Its alloy wheels made entirely from recycled aluminum are not only sustainable but also contribute to reducing the vehicle’s carbon footprint both in production and while driving. With the innovative use of recycled aluminum, BMW Group is leading the way in sustainable production, setting a new standard for the automotive industry.