BMW’s New Take on Clean Cars: Hand Sanitizer?

, former deputy director, Clean Vehicles | October 18, 2011, 10:51 am EDT
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BMW of North America recently announced that it is launching a new “all-natural” hand sanitizer and moisturizer called Purif-i. In their press release, the company says that, “The unique collaboration between a natural cosmetics manufacturer and the BMW i mobility brand is an example of how nature and technology can work together and effectively enhance each other.” It goes on to note that, “Purif-i was created for the BMW i generation, a generation always in search of products that not only make life in megacities easier, but also minimize environmental impact. ”

As a parent of a toddler, I’ve got no beef with hand sanitizer, and I know I’m not in BMW’s marketing niche (my wife and I own ten-year-old cars and bike to work about half the time), but come on, seriously?

BMW and Susan Kaufmann Cosmetics Purif-i Hand Sanitizer

BMW Purif-i hand sanitizer by Susanne Kauffmann Cosmetics. Is there any link to clean cars?

What Does a Hand Sanitizer Have to Do With Cars?

It is hand sanitizer folks, HAND SANITIZER. Hopefully it does minimize the environmental impact of clean hands, but BMW makes cars. Purif-i does nothing about the fact that the average BMW car sold in the U.S. is responsible for more than 6.5 tons of global warming pollution every year, not to mention the smog-forming pollution and toxic particulates. Nor will it help with the fact that the U.S. economy loses about a billion dollars a day due to oil imports when the price hits $100 per barrel—equivalent to about one-half the U.S. trade deficit.

Of course, BMW is not being shy about their motivations here. They clearly mention the term “sustainability marketing” in their press release.  Rather than marketing sustainability, how about marketing cars that are more sustainable?

BMW’s Poor Clean Car Record

Preliminary 2010 numbers from the EPA Fuel Economy Trends Report put BMW’s average car fuel economy nearly 4 miles per gallon behind the industry. And the UCS Hybrid Scorecard finds that BMW’s two hybrids are worst-in-class for environmental improvement and hybrid value.

BMW has some pretty impressive technology and novel fuel saving approaches on the way, but historically they’ve put it to use boosting performance instead of fuel economy or cutting emissions. Hopefully that will change now that they’ve signed on to support the next round of fuel economy and global warming pollution standards currently on the table.

When BMW can boast of an average fuel economy in the 50’s or higher, I’ll stop ribbing them about their latest hand sanitizer. (Though I doubt I’ll ever be able to let this one go from Mercedes.)


Photo Credit: BMW of North America

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  • Thanks Chris.

    I’m glad you bring up the fight against ground level ozone. The auto industry will soon be tested on their commitment to sustainability and public health. California is expected to propose a new round of auto pollution standards for smog-forming and toxic particulates called LEV III (i.e. their third modern Low Emission Vehicles program). And soon after, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will be putting out national rules called Tier 3.

    It is my hope that BMW, Mercedes and the rest of the industry will stand with Californians and Americans as a whole in supporting strong smog and particulate standards!

  • Chris Lehman

    I was chair if Austin regional group of the Sierra Club doing a lot of research in Formula 1,the racing league for the worst gas guzzling manufacturers. BMW dropped outof F1 racing along with Toyota, Honda and Ford. BMW was clear, they were focusing on sustainability. We can all improve but I look forward to BMW’s contribution to alternative energy cars and improved efficiency as the relics remaining in F1 pass on.
    I’ll be very glad to have BMW join the fight against ground level ozone, oil dependence and all the other unintended consequences of oil consumption. Good for them.