How does BMW AG cater to Chinese consumers' particular needs for better air in their cars, especially as the country struggles with severe air pollution?
BMW China Services' Wolfgang Pohl spoke about the company's work on plastics emissions at a July 10 workshop sponsored by IMAT-UVE in Shanghai.
“Our customer has a perception of the odor and the fogging and some also of the emissions in the car,” he said. “The odor you will [smell] very quickly when you enter the car, the fogging you usually realize sometime later, it takes a couple of weeks until you see the film on the window, and then you have to clean it. Customers don't like that. And indoor emissions that don't smell, you will also somehow feel. It can cause headaches and dizziness. So that's why we very early started to take care of all these kinds of emissions.”
The company began making regulations on emissions back in 1994.
The company tests emissions of materials, parts and manufacturing process.
its process is even more stringent than the Chinese standard, Pohl said. “We measure the whole spectrum of substances, and we check it against our internal target ratings, and we don't only have TVOC or the 10 substances mentioned in the Chinese standard,” he said.
“We have target measures for 70 substances. Maybe 30 or 40 of them we never find again because they're all eliminated, but we have these toxicological investigations for 70 substances to really know what is the maximum allowed for our cars.” This includes formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, benzene and nitrosamines, he said.
Emissions testing is done usually after a week of storage in aluminum foil, he said. Pohl wouldn't elaborate more on the exact testing and target value process. “Somehow we got the concepts to define a target value for the cars, and this was hard work. That's why it's a secret, so I wouldn't tell you.”
But he mentioned that the position of the part in the car and exposure to sunlight and heat all factor in to the equation.
Pohl said that BMW suppliers are required to provide detailed information about the parts they supply and what they are made of. They are tested in one of the company's accredited testing studios, including one in Shanghai and one in Shenyang.
He spoke to the group on his thoughts on current and future trends in emissions testing. “What should be the general trend for the future is having all one standard for the isometrics, where the modes [are] very. very close to the Chinese standard.”
Different chemicals have different toxic values, he said, and so target amounts can be different. Currently BMW is getting input on several substances to create a first draft of new standards. An official draft should come out in September, he said, and will then be submitted for government approval.
Pohl estimates that sometime in 2016 new official standards will be implemented.