• 08 – 10 October 2024
  • Exhib. Centre Düsseldorf

Rio Tinto and BMW pave the way to a greener future for the automotive industry 

06 March 2023

(c) Rio Tinto

Is green the new black? At least that could be the new mantra of the high-end automotive industry. After all, buyers of premium cars are now paying more attention to provenance, sustainability and emissions profiles rather than focusing on speed, style and luxury – a shift that has paved the way for the new partnership between Rio Tinto and the BMW Group. To meet this positive change and the responsibility that comes with it, one of the goals of the collaboration is to develop a more responsible, sustainable, traceable and secure supply chain. The two companies are joining forces for a greener and safer future for the automotive industry.

From the leather used in upholstery to the metals used in engine parts, today's premium car buyers increasingly expect vehicles to be made from responsibly sourced materials.

Under the collaboration, Rio Tinto will supply responsibly sourced aluminium to BMW Group's vehicle plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, from 2024. The low-carbon primary aluminium from Rio Tinto's Canadian hydroelectric plants, combined with recycled content, could lead to a reduction in CO2 emissions of up to 70 per cent compared to the BMW Group's aluminium benchmark. The agreement on the supply of low-carbon aluminium is based on several pillars: In addition to hydropower and secondary materials, the two companies also want to lead the automotive industry by increasing the use of aluminium without direct CO2 emissions from the smelting process.

Low-carbon solutions with the highest quality standards

The two companies have signed a memorandum of understanding in which the experts will work together to incorporate low-carbon solutions into the BMW Group supply chain while ensuring that the highest vehicle quality standards are met. The partnership will see the use of aluminium produced with ELYSIS in BMW production vehicles. ELYSIS is the world's first carbon-free smelting technology for aluminium as it enables the production of aluminium metal without direct carbon dioxide emissions during the smelting process and instead emits pure oxygen. Rio Tinto and BMW Group will also work on the launch of Rio Tinto's START. START provides customers and consumers with supply chain traceability with information on provenance and ESG standards.

Rio Tinto is aware of its position in responsible aluminium production and has set itself the goal of being able to offer its customers innovative solutions on their way to decarbonisation towards Net Zero and is proud to contribute to a greener future in the premium automotive industry through its partnership with the BMW Group. And the BMW Group is also aware of its responsibility and has defined clear targets for reducing CO2 emissions in the supply chain. By using innovative materials, the CO2 footprint of vehicles is to be reduced even before they are delivered to customers.

“Made in Canada”

Rio Tinto will pull out all the stops at its Canadian water plant for the partnership. Canada is a popular destination for low-carbon investment globally and the country is looking to build on its competitive advantages – its abundance of critical minerals, skilled workforce, clean energy and proximity to markets – to grow the economy and support “Made in Canada” innovation.