Electric Mini Cooper SE Convertible uses alloy wheels made from 100% recycled aluminium

With the alloy wheels made entirely from recycled aluminium on the world’s first open-top fully electric premium car, BMW Group establishes a material cycle and paves the way for repeated use of the raw material.

Autocar Pro News Desk By Autocar Pro News Desk calendar 25 Feb 2023 Views icon6499 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp

The BMW Group is pushing the envelope in terms of the circular economy. The new Mini Cooper SE Convertible will be the first series model to be produced with alloy wheels that are made entirely from recycled aluminium.

“As a premium manufacturer, we entrenched sustainability in the development from very early on,” said Dr. Nicolai Martin, Senior Vice President Development Automated Driving. “The light alloy wheels of the fully electric open-top four-seater are a prime example of sustainable resource use, and they represent an important milestone on the road to circular economy for the BMW Group.”

The first use of 100% secondary aluminium for light-alloy wheels on a series-production vehicle is in cooperation with the wheel manufacturer Ronal. The consistent use of recycled aluminium not only conserves raw material sources, but also eliminates the particularly energy-intensive electrolysis process that is normally necessary to produce light alloys.

New Mini Cooper SE Convertible will be the first series model to be produced with alloy wheels that are made entirely from recycled aluminium.

Development of the first 100% recycled aluminium alloy wheels is in alignment with the BMW Group’s four basic principles to ‘Re:think, Re:duce, Re:use and Re:cycle’. As the world’s first open-top fully electric premium car to be produced in a small series, it is not only the alloy wheels but the new Mini Cooper SE Convertible as a whole, which has been completely rethought in terms of sustainability.

The combination of a light support wheel made from 100% recycled aluminium with aerodynamically optimised real metal inlays as well as an innovatively designed centre cap offers a unique selling point that clearly sets the model apart from the competition. Made entirely from recycled light alloy, the support wheel completely meets the structural requirements and high-quality standards of the BMW Group, while the inlays optimise the aerodynamic properties of the vehicle, thereby increasing the range of the Mini Cooper SE Convertible. In other words, the innovative alloy wheels contribute to reducing the vehicle’s carbon footprint in multiple respects – both in production and while driving.

Significant carbon reductions from using recycled aluminium
With the use of secondary materials that have a carbon footprint of less than 0.16 kg of carbon per kilogram of aluminium, the wheel supplier has been able to reduce carbon emissions at its production facility by up to 75%, compared to conventionally produced wheels. In concrete terms, this means carbon emissions falling from around 130 kg to around 30 kilograms.

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-optimised 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.

Drivers of the Mini Cooper SE Convertible with recycled aluminium alloy wheels are part of a pilot project aimed at gradually reducing demand for primary raw materials. These alloy wheels can also be fully recycled at the end of their lifecycle. Participating in this circularity enables the BMW Group to continually reduce the amount of aluminium that needs to be produced by means of an energy-intensive primary energy process.

Secondary raw materials must also fulfil the BMW Group’s high standards for quality, design, safety and mechanical properties.

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 aluminium 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.

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