"THIS IS REAL DETECTIVE WORK."
MINI goes fully electric from 2030 – a move we’re fully behind! We are already pursuing sustainability strategies today that influence our approach to supply chains and materials, electrification, production plants and URBAN-X, our startup programme. You can find out what this means in detail in our series around sustainability, "BIG LOVE FOR THE PLANET: This is how MINI is heading into the future."
Ferdinand Geckeler has been in charge of sustainable supply chain management at MINI for the past 13 years, which also means he oversees the responsible manufacture of vehicles. This includes ensuring the supplier network’s compliance with strict environmental criteria and social standards. This may sound banal, but it calls for a detective’s fine instinct, as Geckeler, who lives in Munich, explains in the following interview:
Mr Geckeler, please describe your routine working day.
My team and I spend a good deal of our time every day looking very closely into what are sometimes the critical origins of raw materials and how they have been processed. To do this, we analyse the supply chain of each material from start to finish, and evaluate the risks so as to be able to meet our rigorous specifications and high standards. We also expect the same of our suppliers, especially when it’s a question of a raw material such as mica, for example.
What is mica and where does it come from?
Mica is the name of a group of minerals known as sheet silicates. They are found in granite, marble and sandstone. Mica’s high heat resistance and electrical insulation capability makes it suitable for use in a variety of components, for instance in the electronics system of a MINI. The mineral is also a component in the colour pigments of certain cosmetic products and paints. The problem with mica is that it sometimes comes from unregulated or even illegal smallscale mines, and in some cases from the poorest regions of the world. This often makes tracing it back to its source very difficult.
Sounds like a big challenge.
You’re quite right! A supply chain, which is the path of a material from mine to MINI, consists of a complex network made up of countless supplier relationships. We render the supply chains visible – from mining to further processing to the mineral’s use by our subcontractors or at our production plant. We are well aware, however, that we cannot determine the origin of mica, say, only through transparency and audits like on-site inspections. The problems, particularly in the mining regions, are more complex. That’s why we work according to recognised principles, such as “empowerment before withdrawal”, which means that we do not step back from a supply chain simply on the basis of a suspicion, but involve ourselves in development work aimed at improving the living and working conditions of the people in the regions in question – and so do all we can to rule out the possibility of child labour.
How do you make sure there are no infringements?
When we look at the raw material supply chains, we focus on research and risk analysis to ensure traceability. This is real detective work because every step of production and delivery comes under our scrutiny. Before building a new model, we consider which materials we really need for which component. Also, all our contracts with suppliers contain clauses in line with the UN Framework Principles on Human Rights and the Environment or the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
Can all this be controlled from Munich and the MINI factory in Oxford?
It’s a new challenge every day. Thanks to regular training, inspections and subcontractor audits conducted by independent bodies, though, we can verify that our supply chains function compliantly. This also includes thorough – as well as unannounced – site checks.
How do you manage to stay motivated?
It’s our mission to achieve a highly transparent level of production in the automobile industry. This is not an easy task, but it is one worth fighting for.
THERE IS NO PLANET B. Each of us is responsible for conserving and protecting our environment. That’s why we here at MINI have set ourselves the ambitious goal of fully electrifying our brand’s entire model range by 2030 onwards. But that’s not all; we also want our supply chains to be fair and transparent, our factories to be low on energy consumption and high on human friendliness, and our materials to be resource-conserving and recyclable. We want to lead the way forward – and get as many people to join us as possible. Why are we doing this? Because it’s in our DNA. Here at MINI we’ve always been about turning something small into something great. The first classic Mini was designed in the late 1950s, at a time when the Suez crisis had made the industrial nations of the West realise that fossil fuels were not an infinite resource. MINI has been striving ever since to make a brand of mobility possible within the limited confines of urban space, imagining cars which combine that go-kart feeling with deep environmental awareness. This is something we owe to our community and to the generations still to come.
Illustration: Andrew Joyce
Hinweis (English disclaimers below):
Die offiziellen Angaben zu Kraftstoffverbrauch, CO2-Emissionen und Stromverbrauch wurden nach dem vorgeschriebenen Messverfahren VO (EU) 715/2007 in der jeweils geltenden Fassung ermittelt. Die Angaben berücksichtigen bei Spannbreiten Unterschiede in der gewählten Rad- und Reifengröße. Die Werte der Fahrzeuge basieren bereits auf der neuen WLTP-Verordnung und werden in NEFZ-Äquivalenzwerte zurückgerechnet, um den Vergleich zwischen den Fahrzeugen zu gewährleisten. Bei diesen Fahrzeugen können die CO2-Werte für fahrzeugbezogene Steuern oder andere Abgaben, die (zumindest unter anderem) auf CO2-Emissionen basieren, von den hier angegebenen Werten abweichen. Die CO2-Effizienz-Spezifikationen werden gemäß der Richtlinie 1999/94/EG und der Europäischen Verordnung in der jeweils gültigen Fassung festgelegt. Die angegebenen Werte basieren auf dem Kraftstoffverbrauch, den CO2-Werten und dem Energieverbrauch nach dem NEFZ-Zyklus für die Klassifizierung. Weitere Informationen über den offiziellen Kraftstoffverbrauch und die spezifischen CO2-Emissionen neuer Personenkraftwagen können dem "Handbuch über den Kraftstoffverbrauch, die CO2-Emissionen und den Stromverbrauch neuer Personenkraftwagen" entnommen werden, das an allen Verkaufsstellen und unter https://www.dat.de/angebote/verlagsprodukte/leitfaden-kraftstoffverbrauch.html erhältlich ist.
The values of fuel consumptions, CO2 emissions and energy consumptions shown were determined according to the European Regulation (EC) 715/2007 in the version applicable at the time of type approval. The figures refer to a vehicle with basic configuration in Germany and the range shown considers optional equipment and the different size of wheels and tires available on the selected model. The values of the vehicles are already based on the new WLTP regulation and are translated back into NEDC-equivalent values in order to ensure the comparison between the vehicles. [With respect to these vehicles, for vehicle related taxes or other duties based (at least inter alia) on CO2-emissions the CO2 values may differ to the values stated here.] The CO2 efficiency specifications are determined according to Directive 1999/94/EC and the European Regulation in its current version applicable. The values shown are based on the fuel consumption, CO2 values and energy consumptions according to the NEDC cycle for the classification. For further information about the official fuel consumption and the specific CO2 emission of new passenger cars can be taken out of the „handbook of fuel consumption, the CO2 emission and power consumption of new passenger cars“, which is available at all selling points and at https://www.dat.de/angebote/verlagsprodukte/leitfaden-kraftstoffverbrauch.html
MINI COOPER SE: Energy consumption in kWh/100 km combined: 17,6-15,4, fuel consumption in l/100 km combined: 0, CO2 emissions in g/km combined: 0, electric range in km: 203 - 232. All values based on the combined WLTP test cycle. Further information: www.mini.com/disclaimer.