Gareth Huw Davies

Environment Blog

Germany sets the pace in greening the London 2012 Olympics.

The BMW 320d EfficientDynamic. Does this white car deserve a gold for being green?

Have the first gold medals of the 2012 London Olympic Games already been won, and by the Germans?

The games organisers LOCOG stipulated that the cars in the official Olympic fleet should fuel-efficient, and emit an average of no more than 120 grammes of CO2  per kilometer (g/km). BMW, the official supplier, have beaten that threshold, with an average CO2 emission, across the fleet, of 116g/km.

This compares with the UK new car emissions average of 138 g/km, or 54.2mpg. The fuel economy across the entire BMW Olympic fleet of about 3000 BMW cars is 64.5mpg.

The principal car in the lineup is the BMW 320d EfficientDynamic –  there will be 1550 of them. It does a commendable 68.9 mpg, emitting 109g/km, ahead of comparable rivals on the market.

This may still not be low-emission enough for some tastes, and it is still over the 100g/km limit, below which cars are exempt from the congestion charge. But it is impressive nonetheless when you consider it does all this, as well as being a big, comfortable car aimed firmly at the executive market. It costs £28,000.

The 320d will become a familiar car, and well before the games begin. It has been selected as the vehicle to proceed the official Olympic Torch Relay.

The fleet the German manufacturer will provide, as the official “automotive partner” to the Olympic and Paralympic Games, includes 40 fully electric Minis (not yet on sale), 20 5-series Hybrids and 160 zero-emission 1-Series Active-E cars. This model is still on trial in Germany. It is expected to be the model ferrying athletes around. 400 bicycles are also being supplied, principally for coaches to use at water-based events.

The BMW fleet will perform a wide range of duties during the games, including hauling boats out of the water at Weymouth, providing a mobile camera platform for the marathon, and carrying medal winners around the Olympic Park to media interviews.

These are, you will note, the London games, and did Britain not once have a car industry? In a parallel universe might we have been seeing the 2012 version of British-made Austins, or Jaguars or Triumphs providing the vehicles for London, just as these were the cars pulling up outside Wembley Stadium for the 1948 London Games? But we have to accept the long-term decline of British industry for what it is, and acknowledge that German-owned BMW is bringing some impressively clean vehicles over to provide the official fleet.

It is still too early in the development of the electric car to have realistically expected an entirely-zero-emission fleet for London 2012. Besides, BMW do not yet sell an all-electric car at the moment. But this is a satisfactory start.

In the words of www.thegreencarwebsite, the figures I gave above are “a seriously impressive set of green car statistics.”

BMW has set the bar high, and the games’ organisers can feel a little more comfortable about that company’s connection to London 2012 than it can about some of the other official sponsors.

So when will we see the first zero-emission official fleet? Could it be 2016?  If not, there will surely be no excuse for not achieving the first all-electric games in 2020, wherever they are held.