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.

Google recently enhanced its Android Auto interface.

Photo courtesy of Google

Better late than never. BMW has announced that they will add wireless Android Auto to their vehicles starting in July 2020. The German automaker already offers Apple CarPlay, and in 2017 because the first company to make wireless CarPlay available.

In 2018, BMW became the first automaker to charge specifically for Apple CarPlay, requiring customers to cough up $80 per year for the tech. Last week BMW let it slip to Roadshow that they would no longer charge the fee for 2019 and 2020 model year cars.

Android Auto 2019 Android Auto is able to perform many of the functions of a traditional smartphone while hooked up to your car, including give directions.Photo courtesy of Google

Android Auto will be available in the new vehicles sans special equipment fee.

Like with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto links a smartphone's functionality to a vehicle's infotainment system. When it becomes available, Android Auto will be able to fully integrate into BMW's digital cockpit meaning that the information appears in the car's head up display and instrument cluster instead of exclusively in the infotainment screen at the center of the dashboard.

"We are excited to work with BMW to bring wireless Android Auto to their customers worldwide next year," said Patrick Brady, Vice President of Engineering, Google. "The seamless connection from Android smartphones to BMW vehicles allows customers to hit the road faster while maintaining access to all of their favorite apps and services in a safer experience."

If you're wondering whether or not your phone is compatible with Android Auto, click here to see a handy guide from Google.

The public's first peek at Andorra Auto will be at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.

Android Auto will be available for all BMW customers in 20 countries with BMW Operating System 7.0 in mid 2020.

In November, Tesla introduced the Cybertruck.

Photo courtesy of Tesla

Tesla showed off its new Cybertruck ahead of the L.A. Auto Show in November and reaction was mixed (to put it lightly). Consumer sentiment regarding the promise of all-electric trucks from Ford and General Motors has been better received, at least if you use social media as a gauge.

Today, no EVs for sale in the U.S. are trucks, though buyers can put a deposit down on a Cybertruck and a Rivian R1T. An exact timeline for an electric F-150 has yet to be publicly announced. Earlier this year, General Motors announced its electric pickup will go on sale in 2021.

2019 Ford Electric F-150 pickup Ford showed off the capability of an electric truck this year, but it's not the Ford electric truck.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Which company would customers rather buy their electric truck from? Autolist surveyed roughly 1,100 current car shoppers in late November and early December and asked them for their thoughts on the upcoming trucks from Ford, GM, Tesla, and Rivian.

Assuming they all had similar specs and features, GM was the top choice, garnering 29 percent of the vote. Ford got 27 percent while Rivian had 24 percent and Tesla nabbed 20 percent.

"Frankly, these results are good for all four brands," said Chase Disher, analyst at Autolist.com. "It shows that Ford and GM can leverage their considerable -- and existing -- truck followings to boost interest in their EV models. Meanwhile, it shows that Tesla and Rivian could be poised to grab a meaningful share of a crucial new growth segment."

While pickups remain the top-selling vehicle segment in the U.S., there is some indication that an electric pickup would bring new buyers into the segment. Of those surveyed, 50 percent said that they had never owned a truck while 49 percent had. Of those that had never owned a truck before, many considered the Tesla Cybertruck as their top choice with 25.8 percent of the vote. The Rivian R1T (24.8 percent), Ford F-150 Electric (24.7 percent), and GM Electric truck (24.7) followed.

Among those that had owned a truck before, GM was the most popular option with 35 percent of the tally while Ford earned 28 percent, Rivian had 23 percent, and Tesla got 14 percent.