BMW has been drastically increasing investment in environmental protection measures at its plants, and has made major cost savings as a result. In 2004 it invested EUR34.2m, up from EUR5m in 1998.

In an interview with Automobilwoche, Tobias Premauer, BMW executive responsible for environmental protection, said that there are sound financial reasons for this investment, as well as environmental reasons, particularly in the long-term. Without giving any specific details he asserted that in 2004 the company saved more from these measures than the EUR34.2m it invested.

Water consumption has been drastically reduced through recycling water used when cars are cleaned at the end of the production process, and during the paint process, where a powder clear-coat process does not use water at all.

The powder clear-coat paint coating technology is currently in use in Dingolfing, Regensburg and Leipzig and will eventually be used in all BMW plants. Running costs are half that of a conventional paint plant and material costs are around 25% lower.

BMW has also reduced energy consumption from 3.15 megawatt hours (MWh) per vehicle to 2.94 MWh.

At Regensburg a combined heat and power production system is estimated to save around 20,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year.

Another 'financial' measure of the success of Clean Production is the fact that for the third year BMW is the top-ranking automotive company in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.