Solar tree

At BMW's Mountain View campus, the company is experimenting with using alternative energy to fuel cars. This solar tree, Dempster says, produces enough electricity (in kilowatt-hours) to power one of BMW's electric vehicles. At the campus, the electricity from the panel helps power appliances in the building. In fact, the Mountain View team is working on ways to monitor all of its electricity use. Employees can view the energy used by the building's thermostat, solar chargers, refrigerator, solar tree, and other devices via one central gateway. BMW researchers are also developing an easy-to-read interface to manage all this data. Ultimately, Dempster hopes, the company could sell that interface to customers interested in monitoring their energy consumption.

  @FortuneMagazine - Last updated April 03 2013 09:22 AM ET
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Look inside BMW's plug-in concept car  

The BMW Active Tourer hybrid is a concept vehicle that features plug-in capability, an 8-speed transmission and a twin-turbo 3-cylinder engine.

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