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May 21, 2021

BMW Is First Automaker To Use Wood-Based Material In Its Tires

BMW is the first automaker in the world to equip its cars with tires using certified sustainable natural rubber and rayon, a wood-based material used to strengthen the tires.

The company will source 22-inch tires in the first instance exclusively from Pirelli and will use them in the BMW X5 xDrive45e Plug-in-Hybrid. Certification of the rubber plantations and the complex supply chain for natural rubber and rayon takes place in accordance with the strict standards of the independent Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

Natural rubber is the basic material for many products. About six million small farmers worldwide are responsible for over 80 percent of the world’s natural rubber cultivation. In the so-called rubber belt across the tropical regions, they run farms of between one and two hectares in size under a wide variety of different conditions. Agreeing uniform social and environmental growing conditions with these millions of small individual farms is therefore a major challenge.

By far, the largest share of natural rubber grown worldwide goes into tire production. Natural rubber’s high elasticity and sturdiness currently make it irreplaceable for tire production.

As an independent organization, FSC has developed an internationally recognized and demanding certification standard in recent years that is used worldwide for environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the forests. The organization, whose well-known logo is already established in the wood and paper industry, also applies this standard to products made of natural rubber.

The new 22-inch Pirelli P Zero « has become the world’s first tire to receive the coveted FSC label. To earn this certification, Pirelli adapted its US plant in Rome, Georgia, to produce tires using FSC-certified natural rubber and rayon. From there, the tires are delivered to BMW Group Plant Spartanburg, around 370 kilometers away, and mounted on the BMW X5 Plug-in Hybrid. The “«” in the name indicates that the new tire meets the BMW’s strict performance requirements, including particularly low rolling resistance and noise level.

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