In today’s automotive world, efficiency is in (as long as you don’t have to sacrifice the creature comforts Americans have come to embrace), and BMW has proven that you can successfully pair efficiency with performance, luxury, and build quality.  BMW’s don’t offer the total guilt-free driving of a Tesla Roadster or Nissan Leaf; however, Bavarian Motor Works is steadily evolving into a more environmentally conscious company.

BMW MINI E electric vehicle

In 2007, BMW started ‘project i’, a think tank which investigates and develops future sustainable solutions for drivers.  This project materialized in 2009, with the launch of the MINI E: more than 600 MINI E electric vehicles were launched to the public, laying the groundwork for the BMW ActiveE (currently in its “field trial” state with 700 drivers).  Although partial to the MINI E, having actually seen one in person, I’m really excited for the BMW i3, which is slated for 2013.  The i3 is the electric car for the 21st century urban landscape; featuring lightweight construction, it’s the first 100% electric BMW available for mass production and distribution.

BMW X1 crossover

Although mass produced electric vehicles are on BMW’s long-term agenda, the “X1 Restore the Outdoors” is a current effort by BMW to promote “Social Good.”  The X1 is 6.6 inches shorter and 3.4 inches narrower than it’s big brother, the X3; and in an automotive world that’s shrinking by the model year, smaller is better.  According to BMW, the brand new X1 compact crossover will drive cross country-from Seattle to New York City-stopping at 12 predetermined locations, snapping pictures of “parks, beaches, forests, and recreational locations across the country.”  For every Facebook ‘like’, BMW will donate $1 to that location (up to $10,000 for each).  According to Trudy Hardy, Marketing Communications and Consumer Events Manager for BMW, “So many people want to help protect and restore our natural habitat, but don’t have the time or resources…With the X1 Restore the Outdoors program, and the help of our fans, we can give back to some of the places we love, with a simple ‘Like’.”  So as you sift through countless pictures of old high school classmates on Facebook, take a minute to make your ‘likes’ matter by supporting the below locations.

BMW i3 concept electric vehicle

The 12 locations in the X1 Restore the Outdoors campaign are: Discovery Park Seattle, WA (August 23); Forest Park Portland, OR (August 24); RedwoodNational Forest San Francisco, CA (August 26); Topanga State Park Los Angeles, CA (August 28); Red Rock Canyon Las Vegas, NV (August 29); Indiana Dunes Chicago, IL (August 31); White Rock Lake State Park Dallas, TX (September 2); Sam Houston National Forest Houston, TX (September 3); Oleta River State Park Miami, FL (September 5); Sweetwater Creek State Park Atlanta, GA (September 7); River Bend Park Washington, D.C. (September 9) and Tompkins Square Park New York, NY (September 10).

Find out more at www.restoretheoutdoors.com