BMW Sources Low Carbon Aluminum for Vehicle Production

BMW Group announced today an agreement with global metals and mining company Rio Tinto to provide the automaker with low carbon aluminum for use in vehicle production in the U.S., and to deploy supply chain transparency technology to provide full traceability of the aluminum.

The new agreement follows the expansion by BMW of its efforts to combat climate change with goals to reduce vehicle lifecycle emissions by 40% by 2030 throughout the lifecycle, and initiatives to increase the use of sustainable materials in its products. The company’s goals also include reducing supply chain emissions by 20% by 2030, on a 2019 basis.

BMW highlighted the potential to reduce CO2 in the aluminum supply chain, with aluminum accounting for around a quarter of emissions in the supply chain of a mid-sized fully-electric vehicle.

Joachim Post, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for Purchasing and Supplier Network, said:

“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.”

The aluminum under the new agreement will be sourced from Rio Tinto’s hydro-powered operations in Canada, and supplied to BMW’s South Carolina manufacturing facility, Plant Spartanburg. Combined with recycled content, the approach can save around 70% of emissions compared to conventionally manufactured aluminum.

The agreement provides for the use of aluminum produced using ELYSIS technology, created by Rio Tinto in partnership with Alcoa, which enables the production of metal using carbon-free anodes to eliminate all process-related CO2 emissions in the smelting process.

Additionally, the companies will work to deploy Rio Tinto’s START technology, a blockchain-based solution providing traceability for aluminum back to the mine.

Rio Tinto Chief Commercial Officer Alf Barrios said:

“Rio Tinto’s world-leading position in responsible aluminium production means we can offer innovative solutions to our customers on their decarbonisation journey toward net zero. As global demand for responsibly sourced materials continues to grow, automakers are increasingly looking to partner with suppliers who share their commitment to traceability and sustainability.”