BMW Pushes for More Sustainable Lithium Battery Production for EVs

The harvesting and processing of lithium for lithium-ion batteries responsibly for powering many electric vehicles haven’t always been the best. With the market for electric vehicles expanding in a seemingly exponential way, there has arisen a somewhat immediate need to find a way to sustainably source and process lithium for batteries or to find an alternative altogether. Along with many other sustainability efforts, BMW has announced its work with sustainable lithium sourcing and its plans for the future.

Sustainable lithium sourcing

While many drivers have been eager to get behind the wheel of a more environmentally-friendly vehicle like an EV, we haven’t discarded the knowledge that lithium sourcing for lithium-ion batteries is sustainable. The general public seems to have the basic understanding that in the long run, it isn’t necessarily better for the environment. In order to create electric vehicles that are genuinely Earth-oriented and sustainable, all aspects of the car, from production through to the final product as it exists on the road, have to become more sustainable overall.

A close up of the front end of a BMW
At the IAA, an employee cleans the windscreen of a BMW X1 xDrive20d | Uwe Anspach/picture alliance, Getty Images

Major manufacturers stepping up to the plate

Major manufacturers have stepped up to acknowledge the least efficient and sustainable parts of their product and sourcing lines in order to shift focus and work towards genuine progress. For BMW, this has taken many forms, such as working on using solar energy to work towards CO2-free steel production — but the Germany-based manufacturer isn’t stopping there.

Because the company sources much of its materials from other businesses, the plan to work towards sustainable lithium sourcing is to change its supplier to a new company, called Livent, which will focus on sustainable extraction of the lithium source from Argentina. The company uses a proprietary method that allows them to obtain lithium in a manner that is supposedly more sustainable.

A pair of BMW 3 Series charging in a BMW showroom
A BMW 3 Series electric automobile charges in the BMW Welt automobile showroom| Andreas Gebert/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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What is the IRMA

In 2020, BMW Group joined the IRMA, the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance, pioneering steps forward toward taking responsibility for their production and sourcing as the first automotive manufacturer to join the group. The company is also pushing their suppliers, like Livent, to become a part of the IRMA as well and to agree to their standards as currently set. As of today, Livent has a pending membership with the IRMA.

A close up of an electric vehicle charging station
An electric car (BMW I3) is charged at a charging station | Sven Hoppe/picture alliance, Getty Images

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Working towards sustainable lithium sourcing for electric batteries is just one way that BMW is working towards an overall sustainable future, creating electric vehicles that are genuinely as good for the environment and planet as people hoped.