Automakers big and small are beginning the transition to producing only electric vehicles. It’ll be a years-long process that could easily be delayed, though the goal is to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For BMW, that means more than just building EVs. The automaker has big ideas to reinvent the car’s entire lifecycle, including the supply chain, into one that’s more sustainable and efficient than today, which includes using recycled materials.

We’ll see the first of the program at the Munich Motor Show next week when the company unveils the BMW i Vision Circular concept. BMW calls it a “visionary vehicle” that was designed to meet four established company principles: Re:think, Re:duce; Re:use, Re:cycle. These are fundamental to its circular economy idea. The concept will imagine what cars could look like in 2040 while embodying the brand’s goal of becoming one of the most sustainable – “premium” – automakers.

A teaser image doesn’t actually show the vehicle, though we do see a pile of used materials casting a shadow in the shape of a car. We expect that’s what BMW will debut, which looks like a compact three-door hatch. It has a sleek front, with the hood flowing into the windshield for better aerodynamics and efficiency. Don’t expect an M variant of this runabout. BMW’s idea is to reduce its reliance on new materials, which consumers more resources and produces more harmful emissions.

The company is setting big goals for itself as it rolls out its even bigger ideas. The company wants to achieve a 50-percent reduction in global CO2 emissions by 2030 while reducing their cars’ emissions by 40 percent during their life cycles. BMW plans to do this by selling 10 million EVs within 10 years. The circular economy portion of BMW’s plan includes increasing the use of secondary (recycled) material to 50 percent.

The idea of a circular economy for a car is a bold one, though one with several complications. Improper recycling processes could degrade the quality of the materials to a point where they’re no longer usable in automotive manufacturing. EVs themselves pose problems due to the high levels of cobalt, nickel, aluminum, and other commodities needed for battery production that have to be procured. Maybe it will take 20 years before a circular economy truly becomes a reality.

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