Urban life is going through a radical change. We are transforming the way we live and how we work. Sustainability is becoming an occasionally tedious buzz-word of the era, but it means so much more than simply electrification and a question of CO₂ emissions. It is a call for general action that some companies take seriously – just like MINI
Creative use of space is more relevant than ever before. Today we have to seriously reconsider how we live our lives on sweet Mother Earth. Our cities are growing, as is our population, and experts seem only to disagree on the details of how grey or black our future looks. If this trend continues, we will all be living an urban life by the end of the 21st century, making space as a commodity truly expensive. The predominant mindset among the younger generations is driven by emotional experiences rather than ownership. Flexible co-living – adaptable spaces and social inclusion is more important than grand apartments and impressive cars.
How to use space creatively, is something that has always been a central idea of MINI – the iconic car now in the reliable hands of the BMW Group. The use of space within a car was actually a principal concept back in the 60s, and, together with the pleasure of driving, it’s as important as ever. MINI has always had a clever approach to the future and all the challenges we face, and now more so than ever before. But rather than speaking about different creative solutions and models, the company is more interested in speaking about a wider approach to the ‘creative use of space’, something that is the essence of MINI. and, in the long run, it is of course a question of sustainability.
Two important challenges of our era are density and urbanisation, but we also have historic opportunities for new socio-economic constellations and environmental solutions. It is a fantastic time of radical change with its natural need for innovation and creative thinking. We have to get the balance right to move towards a more sustainable and enjoyable future for all. This is a call for action to all industries that we depend upon. It also means a holistic approach: from production to recycling.
Carl Lindwall, Swedish Corporate Communications Manager, explains: “Naturally, it can become tiresome to hear the word ‘sustainability’ from every CEO these days, but it is actually in the frontline of everything we do – it’s the core of our very existence. It means to take responsibility for ensuring sustainability is maintained, from the supply chain, through the user phase to recycling. As an example, we have initiated a new collaboration with Swedish Northvolt for the production of sustainable battery cells. The BMW Group is today more than a car manufacturer, it is also a leading tech company. Through innovative technology solutions and collaborations, we help our customers to cleaner mobility and car ownership. by enabling electrified car-sharing services and geofencing technology, we help drivers in urban environments to naturally drive fully electric.”
As part of this process, the BMW Group has set clear targets for CO₂ reduction by 2030. For the first time, these are applied throughout the life cycle: from the supply chain, through production to the user phase. The goal is to significantly reduce CO₂ emissions by at least one third per vehicle across the spectrum. With a fleet consisting of approximately 2.5 million vehicles (the number of vehicles produced by the BMW Group in 2019), this would mean a reduction of more than 40 million tonnes of CO₂ over the life cycle to 2030.
Today, China is the world’s largest car market. Something that also becomes clear when studying emission statistics. To further take part in a positive development in China, MINI will soon change its status as an import brand to being produced by a local car supplier. In doing so, they will be able to produce electric models in China via a new platform developed from the ground up for pure electric mobility. This investment will make it possible to meet the growing demand for emissions-free driving both in China and in other markets elsewhere in the world.
Whether produced in China or Europe, MINI’s electric core family will include a three-door model, a new crossover model in the small-car segment, and a crossover model in the compact segment. The next-generation MINI Countryman will also be available with both internal combustion engines and rechargeable powertrains. Future cars, regardless of concept and size, will continue to be characterised by maximum interior space, entertaining driving characteristics and individual solutions for customers.
“It is our responsibility to the brand and our customers to preserve the unique MINI character, with a minimal footprint,” says Bernd Körber, CEO of MINI.
MINI has always had a unique record of overcoming challenges with clever design approaches since its beginning. Crises have always been a great engine for innovation throughout the history of mankind and it was one such crisis that sparked the creation of the very first MINI – the Suez Crisis in 1956 led to severe cutbacks in the supply of oil, so the British Motor Corporation assigned automotive engineer and constructor Alec Issigonis to design a compact, fuel-efficient car with space for four adults. To achieve this, he increased the track width as far as he could and mounted the engine transversely, ensuring, amongst other things, maximum space and fantastic handling. The first MINI was launched in 1959 and soon became a hit and entering the pantheon of British popular culture.
Today, the age-old design philosophy of ‘creative use of space’ is being transformed into new innovative solutions to shape a better world for us to live in.
Words by Tor Bergman
Special thanks to MINI