Electric Vehicles

BMW working to capture the power of cow manure and turn it into EV energy

BMW is partnering with California's farmers to develop clean energy.

Photo courtesy of BMW

BMW is in deep when it comes to electric vehicle development. Now, they're also in deep ... manure. The German automaker is teaming up with California's farmers to harvest manure.

"This collaboration is the first of its kind in the auto industry," said Bernhard Kuhnt, president and CEO, BMW of North America. "It is a perfect fit for the BMW Group, which has long valued creative technologies and partnerships that can contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions."

BMW i3 Straus Organic Dairy Farm When owners plug-in to charge, the energy they use may be coming from the remnants of cows' dinners.Photo courtesy of BMW

As part of the new agreement, Straus Organic Dairy Farm, located in Marshall, California, will be using a methane biodigester to capture methane from cow manure, which would otherwise enter the atmosphere. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, about 14 percent of the total greenhouse gas emissions comes from manure from the agriculture sector.

The captured methane from the Northern California farm is transformed into renewable energy that is sent to California's power grid. When electric vehicle owners plug their car in, they could be running on poo-generated energy.

"In addition to being a great collaboration, we are developing the blueprint for a model that can generate revenue for other farmers throughout California," said Albert Straus, founder and CEO of Straus Family Creamery.

The family farm is one of the first steps in BMW's poo-energy procurement plants. "We are well on our way to ensuring that every electric mile driven by BMW and MINI owners in California is covered," said Adam Langton, BMW USA Energy Services Manager.

This methane plan is in addition to the ChargeForward pilot program that currently operates in the San Francisco Bay Area. That program allows owners to charge their vehicles using as much solar energy as possible.

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Discontinued sedan

Volkswagen nixing Passat after 2022 model year

Racing Green Metallic is one of four exclusive colors for the car.

Volkswagen

After five decades on sale in the U.S., Volkswagen is pulling the plug on the midsize Passat. The explosion of SUVs' popularity and the need to shift production power to electric vehicles are behind the decision, which will take place after the 2022 model year. The cars have been built at the automaker's Chattanooga, TN plant since 2011, but the facility is being repurposed as VW's North American hub for electric vehicle assembly.

Volkswagen is giving the car one last hurrah, however, in the form of the Passat Limited Edition. The car features 18-inch wheels, LED headlights with an Advanced Front Lighting System, and an easy-open trunk. Inside, the cars come with sport seats wrapped in Vienna leather, memory seating, a Fender Premium Audio System, parking assistance, and parking sensors.


2022 Volkswagen Passat Limited Edition Each car gets a special model tag with its limited production number.Volkswagen


Only 1,973 of the cars will be built, and it will only be sold in four colors, each with its own limited production numbers that have special meaning for the Passat:

  • Aurora Red Metallic with Titan Black interior: 411 units to represent the original vehicle production code
  • Racing Green Metallic with Mauro Brown interior: 423 units to commemorate the Chattanooga 423 area code
  • Pure white with Mauro Brown interior: 524 units to signify the Chattanooga plant's May 24 opening date
  • Platinum Great Metallic with Titan Black interior: 615 units to signify six generations of imported Passats, one generation assembled in Chattanooga, and five decades of U.S. sales

Pricing for the 2022 Passat starts at $31,290, which includes a $995 destination fee. Adding Aurora Red Metallic drives the price up by an additional $395. Each car will receive a special number plate to designate its place in the limited production run.


2022 Volkswagen Passat Limited Edition The Passat Limited Edition gets several upscale features. Volkswagen

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Electric vehicle features

The VW ID.4 sounds futuristic

The ID.4 is VW's first electric crossover in the U.S.

VW

The Volkswagen ID.4 is finally here. The electric crossover offers compelling features, decent all-electric range, and a reasonable price. On top of all that, Volkswagen focused heavily on the electric experience with the ID.4, down to the sounds it makes in everyday operation.

Where many automakers seek to humanize electric vehicles with familiar gas engine sounds, Volkswagen hasn't bothered with any of that. Instead, the automaker's ID.4 electric crossover features several sounds that embrace the EV's place in the future of transportation.

On startup, drivers are greeted with a sound that Volkswagen says will alert them that the vehicle is ready to go. It's not at all unlike the flying saucer sounds heard in sci-fi movies decades ago, but it's a nice reminder of the ID.4's future-forward drivetrain.



In motion, VW gave the ID.4 what is known as an Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System, which helps alert people to the presence of a moving electric vehicle. Since the drivetrain doesn't make the same noises that a gas engine does, EVs can move almost silently at low speeds, so it's important to have some kind of warning sound.

Even the turn signal sounds received scrutiny in the ID.4's design, and while they're still fairly traditional, the sounds are subtle and pleasing overall. Beyond that, VW says it developed a library of sounds for typical vehicle control buttons and other functions that are exclusive to its electric vehicles. The goal, according to the automaker, is that the sound aligns with the vehicles' character, visual design, and features, and that people will be able to recognize a VW EV by its unique sound.

The ID.4 is just the first of several EVs that Volkswagen plans to release here in the United States. Larger family vehicles are on the horizon, and we may even see an electric revival of the legendary VW bus.

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