Tom Baloga, BMW of North America VP, Engineering, with BMW 7 Active Hybrid concept
Tom Baloga, BMW of North America VP, Engineering, with BMW 7 Active Hybrid concept. Click image to enlarge

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Toronto, Ontario – When car talk turns to environmentally friendly vehicles, a handful of automakers spring to mind. There’s Toyota with its popular Prius and numerous other hybrids, Honda, Ford and General Motors.

But even companies better known for their appeal to driving enthusiasts are getting into the game. Among these is BMW; its “ultimate driving machine” slogan is well known, but the company is working on several technologies that aim to save fuel and help keep advancing the science of the environmentally-friendly automobile.

Something you may not know is that BMW has been named ‘world’s most sustainable automobile manufacturer’ four years running by the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI), and is the only company in the auto industry to be listed in the index ever since it was first published in 1999.

While inclusion in the DJSI is based on economic, social and environmental factors that go well beyond the vehicles in the showroom, the vehicles are, of course, partially responsible for the company’s good standing in environmental matters. I had to a chance to talk to Tom Baloga, Vice President of Engineering for BMW Group North America, about some of the environmental technologies the company is working on.

It starts with EfficientDynamics, BMW’s philosophy of making all of its vehicles as efficient as possible through the use of technologies like electric power steering and brake energy regeneration. The latter is a system that captures kinetic energy created when the car is coasting to recharge the battery, in order to reduce load on the engine-driven alternator.

“We developed the EfficientDynamics philosophy in 2000 and found that the best way to maximize the benefit of fuel saving technologies is to spread them across the whole fleet, rather than only use them on a few high-volume models,” said Baloga. He adds that start/stop technology – which shuts the car engine off when the vehicle is stopped, a feature commonly used in hybrids – will soon be added to the company’s North American models.

Baloga says the difficulty for a company these days is coming up with new ways to save fuel and produce environmentally sensitive vehicles.

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