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  3. Environment

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Environment

Willkommen

Think of an environmental role model. Did you think of us at Volkswagen? Probably not. But that’s exactly what we’re aiming to be in the field of the environment: a model company. We want to deliver mobility for everyone around the world and, as we do so, to minimize the impact on the environment. Here on this site you’ll find lots of examples of current projects through which we’re pursuing this goal.

Volkswagen has set itself the goal of developing its vehicles in such a way that, over the entire life cycle, they present better environmental properties than the respective predecessor model.

For Volkswagen, environmental protection is all about the full life cycle

Volkswagen develops its products and services in the most environmentally compatible way possible. As we do so, we consider not only the production and use phases, but also the raw materials, precursors and suppliers, and the end-of-life recycling process. This cradle-to-grave approach is what we call the life cycle principle.

For Volkswagen, applying the life cycle principle means our responsibility begins well before anything enters our factory gates and does not end when a vehicle is sold.

We apply the same principle when calculating environmental impacts. Only by adding up all such impacts from start to finish can we arrive at the correct result. This is particularly important when we are comparing two potential variants. If a particular model is more environmentally compatible to produce, this advantage can be brought to nothing by problematic outsourced components.

And finally, the life cycle principle also helps us organize the way we work at Volkswagen. Because while we have specialist teams for the different phases of the life cycle, it is only by working together over the entire life cycle that we achieve a truly positive outcome for the environment.

In concrete terms, that means:

  • Volkswagen fosters strategic partnerships with suppliers in order to drive forward innovations that help protect the environment
  • In our Roadmap E we are launching one of the most comprehensive electrification offensives in the automobile industry to deliver electric vehicles for everyone. That means fascinating new products and reduced CO2 emissions during the use phase
  • Volkswagen is also working on new CO2-neutral fuels
  • Through our new Moia brand we are developing smart, environmentally compatible mobility concepts
  • Recycling is a major topic for Volkswagen – not least when it comes to re-commissioning car batteries or recycling and reutilizing valuable materials.

Projects

  • New aluminum recycling concepts

    Managing the aluminum cycle

    An aluminum component at Audi. This material is some two-thirds lighter than steel.

    Aluminum is an important staple of the automotive industry when it comes to lightweight design, but it is more energy-intensive to produce than steel. To address this issue, Audi is currently testing an innovative recycling concept designed to conserve resources.

    Together with a supplier, Audi recently rolled out the Aluminum Closed Loop pilot project to identify the potential for more efficient recycling of aluminum. The aim is to set up a closed-loop recycling system between the company and its suppliers.

    It works like this: Offcuts from the sheet aluminum used in the Audi press shops are returned directly to the supplier, who recycles them. The resulting secondary raw materials are then used by Audi in its production process, eliminating the need for energy-intensive production of new aluminum, which in turn benefits the environment. The bottom line is that Audi not only reduces its energy consumption, and therefore its CO2 emissions, but at the same time also cuts its uptake of primary raw materials. To define the system requirements and constraints, Audi is currently analyzing all the relevant process steps. On this basis the company will then explore the potential for using the system across the Group.

    The thinking behind the development of innovative processes like the Aluminum Closed Loop is explained by Dr. Bernd Martens, responsible for procurement on the Audi Board of Management: “Audi stands for sustainability. We are aiming to make the entire value chain of our models sustainable and have set ourselves demanding goals in this respect. Through careful resource cycle management, we aspire to conserve resources by recycling materials and raw materials.”

    “It’s about conserving resources by applying the principle of resource cycle management.”
    Dr. Bernd Martens
    responsible for procurement on the Audi Board of Management

  • Saving energy when melting aluminum

    On-site savings

    With a plant like this, Volkswagen can now melt aluminum offcuts on site, creating new raw material.

    The Volkswagen plant in Kassel manufactures engines, gearboxes and body parts for the entire Volkswagen Group. As most of the production processes at the components plant involve the machining of metals – for example drilling, milling or grinding – large quantities of aluminum cuttings are also produced.

    In the past, these cuttings were shipped to external contractors for melting and then returned to Volkswagen as a solid material. Before it could be used for the production of new parts, the aluminum had to be melted again at the Volkswagen plant.

    Now Volkswagen has simplified this process. All aluminum cuttings produced from alloy Al 226 with a residual moisture level below two percent can now be melted directly on site, producing new raw material.

    The specific environmental benefit is that the Kassel plant can cut the amount of aluminum alloy it purchases each year by 1,050 tonnes. As aluminum production is highly energy-intensive, this also means a considerable drop in the associated CO2 emissions. Thanks to the new approach, Volkswagen itself saves some 3,250 MWh of energy per year, representing a reduction of 1,430 tonnes in CO2 emissions.

    On the logistics side, this process also reduces the distance traveled by trucks by 800,000 kilometers per year. In addition, nitrogen oxide output is cut by 0.5 tonnes per year and Volkswagen also reduces the use of many consumables such as melting salts (-1,300 tonnes p.a.) and calcium hydroxide (-16 tonnes p.a.), as well as the production of waste such as salt slag (-2,670 tonnes p.a.) and filter dust (-130 tonnes p.a.).

    "1,430 tonnes less CO₂ per year."
    Volkswagen
    Kassel plant

  • Efficient transportation concept for the logistics sector

    Smart packing helps the environment

    Thanks to a new concept, ŠKODA can transport four car bodies in a single container.

    When moving house, clever loading will enable you to fit everything into the van in one go – from cupboards and carpets to floor lamps and pot plants. By making just one trip you also help reduce CO2 emissions. In its 4-in-1 transportation concept, ŠKODA has taken this simple principle and honed it into a fine art.

    The logistics people at ŠKODA AUTO are using this pioneering solution to transport car bodies and non-localized parts from the brand’s main production plant in Mladá Boleslav in the Czech Republic to its Aurangabad plant in India. Some body attachments such as doors and hoods are already mounted prior to transport, while many others are supplied as non-assembled parts. This is what is referred to in the industry as a medium-knocked-down (MKD) kit. ŠKODA uses large ocean containers to transport these kits. Containers offer a safe and logistically efficient transport solution that also ensures that all the items that belong together stay together. Normally, two bodies and all the associated parts fit into a single container.

    Now, the ŠKODA logistics team have devised a special carrier system which allows four vehicles to be transported in one container. This solution, which was developed over several years, allows every last inch of space to be used – with obvious benefits for the environment. Thanks to the 4-in-1 solution, 290 fewer containers are now making the 13,270-kilometer trip from Europe to India every year, reducing annual CO2 emissions by 850 tonnes.

    "CO2 emissions reduced by 850 tonnes – every year."
    ŠKODA

  • Cutting CO₂ emissions from car carrier ships

    Setting sail for the environment

    This is what the LNG car carriers will look like that cut CO₂ emissions by up to 25%.

    Every year, Volkswagen Group Logistics transports 2.7 million vehicles by sea. And from 2019, some of them will be shipped to North America on two environmentally compatible LNG-powered car carriers.

    LNG stands for Liquefied Natural Gas, an alternative marine fuel that is set to reduce the levels of air pollutants emitted by the Group’s car carriers on the North Atlantic route. Each of these LNG ships generates 25% less CO₂ and up to 30% less nitrogen oxide per year than an equivalent conventionally-fueled vessel. Plus, emissions of soot particles drop by up to 60% and sulfur oxide emissions can be eliminated altogether.

    The two charter vessels from Siem Car Carriers AS are around 200 meters in length and 36 meters wide, and they can each carry 4,500 vehicles. That gives them a load capacity comparable to a conventionally-powered ocean-going freighter – despite the below-deck presence of a large LNG tank that can hold 3,000 cubic meters of fuel.

    The ships will operate exclusively for the Volkswagen Group, circulating between the company’s markets in Europe, Mexico, the USA and Canada. They set sail in Emden, northern Germany before calling at several ports on the eastern shores of Canada and the USA on their way to Veracruz in Mexico. From there they return to the U.S. east coast before sailing back to Emden. Volkswagen is one of the first automobile manufacturers to use LNG-powered ships to transport its vehicles. And back in 2014 the company was also the first automaker to join the Clean Shipping Network, which assesses the environmental impact of transportation by sea.

    "25% less CO₂ on the North Atlantic passage."
    Volkswagen Group Logistics

  • Center for eco-compatible lightweight construction

    Making light work of environmental protection

    The lighter a car, the less energy it takes to drive it. At the Open Hybrid LabFactory, scientists are looking into lightweight solutions for the cars of the future.

    Even the facility itself makes a statement, its architecture displaying an impressive lightness of touch as it provides 10,000 square meters of space for a technology center, laboratories and offices. So it is fair to say that the Open Hybrid LabFactory offers the ideal environment for scientists from industry and academia to work on lightweight solutions for our automotive future.

    The magic word in this context is “hybrid”. In their efforts to develop production components that are not only lightweight but also strong and low-cost, the scientists unite different materials such as metals, plastics and textiles. Glass fibers fed from reels on high shelves are processed on a 30-meter-long textile laying machine. In the central section of the machine, light-colored glass fibers are combined with dark carbon fibers to form a nonwoven that is durably bonded on a calendar at high pressure and temperature. “Carbon fibers are lighter and stronger but also far more expensive than glass fibers. So the ideal fabric will contain carbon fibers at precisely those points where high loads occur and they are therefore essential. That’s what we’re working on here,” explains Felix Eichleiter, the former Managing Director of the Open Hybrid LabFactory, who today works for Volkswagen Components Production.

    The Open Hybrid LabFactory’s technology center also houses a press as tall as a house for combining metal and plastic. The press forces metals such as steel into the required shape with a weight of 3,600 tonnes and bonds it to hot liquid plastic which is then allowed to cool. It was on a machine like this that the first component ever made by the Open Hybrid LabFactory, a prototype seat backrest for SITECH, was produced. “The lightweight backrest clearly shows that lightweight components can be produced economically if we use materials optimized for the loads they will be expected to bear and ensure the smart integration of functions,” says Martin Zubeil, Managing Director of the Open Hybrid Lab Factory and an expert in the structural development of components. The technology center is surrounded by twelve laboratories where experts engage in materials analysis, for instance, or test the quality of the hybrid joints.

 But no matter how fascinating the solutions realized in this way may be, Volkswagen of course dives deeper, investigating their environmental balance-sheet over the full life cycle.

    Under lead management of the Lower Saxony Research Center for Motor Vehicle Technology at the Technical University of Braunschweig, 28 partners collaborate within the Open Hybrid LabFactory. They include major corporations such as Volkswagen or ThyssenKrupp, as well as various universities and Fraunhofer Institutes.

    "Lightweight solutions for the cars of the future."
    Martin Zubeil
    Managing Director of the Open Hybrid LabFactory

  • Think Blue. Factory. drives environmentally compatible production

    Every drop counts

    1,140 liters is how much water Volkswagen saves in the production of a Golf compared with the predecessor model.

    Volkswagen saves 1,140 liters of water during production of a new Golf – compared with the predecessor model from 2010. And every year the new paint shop, which was commissioned in 2013, now saves the same amount of electricity as the entire German town of Königslutter consumes.

    Employees in the body shop came up with the idea of using dual welding guns, which can weld two spots simultaneously. This shortens the operating cycle by 5 seconds, and with several thousand vehicles produced each day, that means measurable savings in terms of time and energy.

    These are just three of many examples. The underlying program is called Think Blue. Factory. Its key message: For the Volkswagen brand today, ecology is no less important than quality, efficiency and innovation. What’s more, each year since 2010 the brand has saved more than 130 million euros through environmental measures.

    In 2015 Volkswagen achieved its declared aim of building cars and components 25% more sustainably than in 2010. Now even more stringent targets have been set: By 2025 the aim is to reduce the environmental indicator for production by 45% per vehicle compared to a 2010 baseline. This “environmental impact reduction per unit” (UEP) aggregate indicator covers the environmental factors energy, water, waste, and CO2 and solvent emissions. So every contribution counts, no matter how small; every last drop, so to speak.

    "New goal: By 2025 every car is to be manufactured with 45% less energy, CO2, water, waste and solvents than in 2010."
    Volkswagen Passenger Cars

  • Fuel from wastewater brings 80% reduction in CO₂

    Fuel from wastewater

    Fuel from wastewater – SEAT makes it happen.

    And it goes like this: lots of organic residues are left behind when wastewater is purified at the treatment plant. They normally end up as sludge in a digestion tank. This is where bacteria break down the sludge, producing fermentation gases. And they are often simply incinerated because preparing them for industrial use is a pretty complicated process.

    But SEAT has come up with an alternative idea: at a treatment plant in Jerez de la Frontera in southern Spain the digester gases are channeled through low-oxygen water. This eliminates the carbon dioxide and thus increases the proportion of methane in the gas, generating biomethane, which is then cleaned and compressed at a pressure of 200 bar. It can then be used as fuel for natural-gas vehicles – 100% locally produced and 100% renewable.

    In the "Smart Green Gas" pilot project in conjunction with Spanish water company Aqualia, SEAT has demonstrated that this principle really works. The project involved SEAT Leon TGI natural-gas cars (SEAT Leon TGI – Fuel consumption in kg/100 km: combined 3.6; CO2-emission combined in g/km: 96; Efficiency class: A+ SEAT Leon TGI –Fuel consumption in l/100 km: combined 5.4-5.3; CO2-emission combined ing/km: 124-123; Efficiency class: B) in which the biogas cut CO2 emissions by 80% compared with conventional fuels.

    The entire process chain and the potential extension of the project is now being examined in long-term testing over a period of five years. A medium-sized treatment plant in Spain which treats the wastewater of around 50,000 people could produce several thousand cubic meters of biomethane a day using the "Smart Green Gas" principle – enough to drive each of 350 SEAT Leons 15,000 kilometers.

    "Renewable fuel, locally produced."
    SEAT

  • Eco-compatible truck with hybrid and gas drive

    I’m lovin’ it, says the environment

    The video shows how hybrid or gas-powered trucks deliver burgers to the fast-food chain.

    Scania has teamed up with partners including food logistics company HAVI – which supplies McDonalds outlets in many European countries – in its drive to improve air quality, above all in cities.

    Scania and HAVI have set themselves the goal of cutting CO2 emissions per kilometer by 15-40 percent, depending on the nature of the route and fuel/traffic conditions.

    The key here is a change of tack for the company’s vehicles. HAVI is striving to ensure that, by 2021, some 70 percent of its fleet is made up of vehicles powered by natural-gas or hybrid drive systems rather than diesel-engined trucks. These alternatives will reduce carbon dioxide emissions in cities and are also significantly quieter.

    During the switch-over, Scania and HAVI will continuously record the trucks’ CO2 emissions in real time, allowing them to monitor progress toward their ambitious goal. To this end, HAVI is using the latest connectivity solutions from Scania.

    As well as adopting new drive solutions, HAVI and Scania are also developing a truck specially equipped to collect waste – such as used cooking oil, plastics and cardboard from restaurants – for recycling. This will not only promote recycling but also help cut the number of waste transportation runs, avoiding unnecessary kilometers on the road and the CO2 emissions generated as a result.

    "Continuous real-time recording of CO₂ emissions reveals progress toward environmental goals."
    Scania

  • eTrucks tested in Austria

    eTrucks – the quiet distribution solution

    Especially in cities and conurbations, the all-electric trucks not only allow significantly more flexible and longer operating times. They also combine effective distribution traffic with urban environmental protection.

    MAN’s eTruck, an all-electric semitrailer tractor, made a big impression when it was unveiled at the 2016 IAA Commercial Vehicles show in Hanover. Here was a truck with the potential to deliver zero emissions and whisper-quiet operation in urban distribution. The only question was how it would perform under real-world conditions. Now that question is being answered.

    For this phase of the project, MAN has entered into a partnership agreement with the Austrian Council for Sustainable Logistics (CNL). The CNL comprises 17 of Austria’s largest companies from the retail, logistics and manufacturing sectors. Nine of these companies will be field-testing the MAN eTruck under harsh real-world conditions. The trucks will be supplied in 2018.

    The eTrucks will be used in a variety of applications in medium- and heavy-duty urban distribution. Typically, they will make deliveries to urban-based parcel-sorting centers and supermarkets.

    To gain maximum experience during this trial, the eTrucks will be supplied as 26 t GVW truck chassis for use in applications such as refrigerated transport or drinks transport and with swap bodies. The trials will take place in the Austrian cities of Vienna, Salzburg and Graz.

    For the environment, the eTruck will bring significant reductions in both emissions and noise. What’s more, there will be no compromises on capacity, since the payload of the MAN eTruck is comparable to that of conventional internal combustion-engined models.

    This test forms part of MAN’s eMobility roadmap. The eTruck is due to be produced in limited numbers from late 2018, with volume production starting early in 2021.

    "Pointing the way to whisper-quiet, zero-emission urban distribution."
    MAN

  • New fuel: Used cooking oil helps protect the environment

    R33 BlueDiesel – protecting the environment with used cooking oils

    The higher the proportion of regeneratively produced fuel in the tank, the less additional CO2 ends up in the atmosphere. The diesel fuel bought at gas stations today will normally contain 7% of biodiesel. At its Wolfsburg plant, Volkswagen now refuels vehicles with R33 BlueDiesel, which contains an additional 26% of paraffin produced from waste. This works perfectly – and cuts CO2 emissions by 20%.

    French fries play an important role here. Wherever these irresistible potato sticks are made, cooking fat – usually rapeseed oil – is needed. This fat has to be disposed of after use. Which is where the R33 BlueDiesel idea comes in.

    The fat is filtered, cleaned and turned into paraffin, which mixes very well with normal diesel and biodiesel fuel. Together with the usual 7% of biodiesel, R33 BlueDiesel has a total biofuel content of 33%. One third of this fuel thus consists of paraffin produced regeneratively, and it can be used in any conventional diesel engine – with no conversion measures required.

    The outcome is a 20% drop in CO2 emissions compared with conventional diesel, which makes this fuel a good thing for all concerned.  Volkswagen’s key accounts and fleet customers are particularly interested, because as a low-CO2 fuel, R33 helps them attain their own climate care targets. Since their diesel vehicles often run up high annual mileages, the positive effect on the environment is particularly pronounced. Another major advantage for the environment is that R33 BlueDiesel produces far fewer pollutants such as soot particles in the exhaust gas. 

    Volkswagen developed the new fuel over a two-year period in cooperation with Coburg University and 20 project partners. The fuel was tested on 280 vehicles (trucks, cars, buses and mobile machines) in emissions classes Euro 0 to Euro 6. It meets the diesel standard DIN EN 590 and fulfills all the criteria for use as the standard fuel in all diesel vehicles in the same way as conventional diesel and without any additional requirements.

    The fuel has already been sold successfully at two gas stations in Coburg, Germany. In Wolfsburg, Volkswagen company vehicles can currently be refueled with R33 BlueDiesel. At an estimated four million liters in six months, this alone will prevent the emission of more than 2,000 tonnes of CO2.

    “20% less CO₂ and a marked reduction in soot particles.”
    Volkswagen

  • Intersection Pilot assistance system cuts CO₂ emissions

    Green lights for greener driving

    Driver assistance systems help brake the car, change lanes and even pull into or out of a parking space. And they make for added safety, comfort and convenience. The “Intersection Pilot” can do even more: it helps not only the driver but the environment as well.

    This is particularly important at busy major intersections, where CO2 emissions can peak. That’s where this Volkswagen research project comes in: The Intersection Pilot is connected to the traffic infrastructure in the shape of traffic lights, for example. This allows it to govern the speed of the car to ensure that, as far as possible, it doesn’t have to stop at the lights. And if a red light does proves unavoidable, the system governs the way the car slows down and then moves off again, to help as many following vehicles as possible to cross the intersection during the green phase.

    For drivers, this means less time spent waiting and shorter tailbacks, while their cars consume less energy, reducing CO2 emissions into the bargain. One spin-off benefit is that traffic noise is also reduced, because accelerating from a standstill is a prime source of noise. The Intersection Pilot has already been tested in research projects with various partners and has emerged with flying colors. Before it can be successfully introduced, however, the traffic infrastructure must first be equipped with the necessary technology.

    “Intersections in particular offer great potential to cut CO₂ emissions."
    Volkswagen

  • Reducing CO₂ emissions by slipstreaming

    Up close and economical

    DB Schenker, MAN Truck & Bus and the Fresenius University of Applied Sciences are bringing networked trucks into practical use in the logistics industry for the first time.

    In the course of 2018, MAN, DB Schenker and Fresenius University of Applied Sciences will be putting electronically connected trucks on the road. Digital communications keep the trucks at a steady distance. The aim is to cut fuel consumption and emissions, make better use of available road space and boost road safety.

    Under the platooning principle, a number of electronically connected trucks follow each other at short distances, forming a convoy or “platoon”. Linked together by their vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems, the trucks effectively operate as a single unit. To take one example: if a situation occurs where the lead vehicle has to brake sharply, a brake sensor shares that information wirelessly with the other vehicles in the platoon, enabling them to brake simultaneously, with no time lag. The data is transmitted at a speed far exceeding human reaction times, which helps to reduce the risk of accidents.

    As well as improving road safety, this technology also helps to protect the environment by reducing fuel consumption and emissions for the platoon as a whole by up to ten percent. This is down to what is known as the slipstreaming effect: the short distances between vehicles in the platoon reduce drag on all the vehicles traveling behind the platoon leader, which in turn means lower fuel consumption and CO₂ emissions.

    During 2018, MAN will pilot-test semi-automated platoons on a section of the A9 motorway between Munich and Nuremberg known as the Digital Motorway Test Bed. A two-vehicle platoon will be used, comprising a driver-controlled lead truck and a second truck following close behind, whose driver will only intervene in the driving process if necessary. At platoon speeds of 80 km/h, the second truck will follow at a distance of just 15 meters.

    “Up to 10% reduction in CO₂ emissions.”
    MAN

*The stated values were determined according to the legally prescribed measuring procedures. The data do not refer to an individual vehicle and are not part of the offer, but serve only for comparison purposes between the different vehicle types. A vehicle's fuel consumption and CO₂ emissions not only depend on the efficient use of the fuel/energy content of the battery by the vehicle, but are also influenced by driving behaviour and other non-technical factors (e.g. environmental conditions). Additional equipment and accessories (attachments, tyres, etc.) can change relevant vehicle parameters, such as weight, rolling resistance and aerodynamics, and, in addition to weather and traffic conditions, influence consumption and mileage values. The information on fuel consumption and CO₂ emissions applies to span widths depending on the tyre format selected and optional extras. Further information on official fuel consumption and the official specific CO₂ emissions of new passenger cars can be found in the "Guide on fuel consumption, CO₂ emissions and electricity consumption of new passenger cars", which is available free of charge at all sales outlets and from DAT Deutsche Automobil Treuhand GmbH, Hellmuth-Hirth-Straße 1, D-73760 Ostfildern or at www.dat.de Efficiency classes evaluate vehicles on the basis of CO₂ emissions, taking into account the empty vehicle weight. Vehicles which correspond to the average are classified as D. Vehicles that are better than the current average are rated A+, A, B or C. Vehicles that are worse than average are described as E, F or G.