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If you do something, do it right!

With the ID. family, Volkswagen will launch the biggest electric offensive in automotive history in 2020. However, it is about much more than just battery-powered travel. It is about completely climate-neutral mobility – from the supply chain and production to green charging electricity and recycling. Read on for an overview of how Volkswagen is facing up to this revolutionary challenge.

Emissions-free local travel is one thing – but overall CO2-neutral mobility is another. This depends in particular on the electricity that is used to “fill up” an electric car. The greener the energy in the battery, the greener travelling from A to B is. It is worth having a quick look at Norway here. In Norway, almost 100 percent of electricity comes from water power and around half of all vehicles are purely electric. The result: in the far north, average CO2 emissions during use were just 71 g/km – while in the rest of Europe they were 118.5 g/km in 2017. In Germany, there are two problems – the inadequate market penetration rate of electric vehicles and the electricity mix.  

Last year, 60 percent of electricity from German sockets was from non-renewable sources. If an electric vehicle is charged using this electricity, there will be no emissions in the immediate area where the vehicle is moving. However, there will be emissions from the chimneys of conventional power stations. Manufacturing an electric vehicle produces more carbon dioxide than manufacturing a vehicle with a petrol or diesel engine. However, the amount of carbon dioxide does not increase further during the vehicle’s life cycle if the vehicle is charged using green electricity. In terms of resources, new opportunities result, for example the recycling of batteries and the recovery of the valuable raw materials. So what is the best way to approach these huge challenges?

Clear message

For Volkswagen, one thing was clear from the start: when it comes to e-mobility, there is only one way – the integrated way. “We are gearing the company to clean mobility,” said Dr. Herbert Diess, CEO of Volkswagen AG and Chairman of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars Brand Board of Management. In more specific terms: when the Volkswagen ID. is launched in 2020, it will be the world’s first CO2-neutral electric vehicle available to customers. In order to achieve this ambitious goal, Volkswagen has done a great deal of work in recent years.

Site decarbonization is a good example. Alongside numerous other measures in the area of water consumption and waste reduction, the Zwickau plant for example has reduced its absolute CO2 emissions by 66 percent since 2010 – while vehicle production increased by three percent at the same time. This was achieved through sourcing climate-neutral electricity externally, operating a highly efficient gas CHP plant and the use of cogeneration. From the end of 2019, production of the ID. will begin at this very site; from 2022, the Emden and Hanover plants will also start producing e-vehicles. This will ultimately result in the biggest, most efficient e-vehicle production group in Europe.

Electric mobility, thought through to the end

Volkswagen will pursue its goal of achieving CO2 neutrality for the ID. throughout the value chain. In other words, 100 percent green electricity in battery cell production at our suppliers, 100 percent green electricity in vehicle production, avoiding CO2 emissions wherever possible – and if this is not possible: offsetting emissions by investing in climate protection projects. Volkswagen monitors its 40,000 direct suppliers based all over the world, ensuring that they comply with environmental standards and supporting cross-sector initiatives. For example, the issue of the sustainable sourcing of raw materials for battery cells is addressed through the World Economic Forum’s Global Battery Alliance with partners such as UNICEF or the OECD.  

Consistent CO2 avoidance and supply chain

The battery – the pivotal component

Smart Grid,
bidirectional connectivity between cars, homes and the electricity grid.

The question remains: what happens to the discarded batteries from electric vehicles? In addition to established recycling methods to recover valuable raw materials such as aluminium, copper, nickel, manganese or cobalt from lithium-ion cells, Volkswagen is working on innovative supplementary usage concepts. For example, developers at the Salzgitter component site are currently looking into (re)using batteries in flexible 100 kW fast-charging points.
Unlike with “conventional” 11 kW wallboxes for home use, the 22 kW versions will work in both directions, i.e. they will also feed energy back into the electricity grid again. The magic words here are “smart grid” – bidirectional connectivity between cars, homes and the electricity grid. This is where the next elementary building block in Volkswagen’s integrated electric strategy comes into play. With “Elli”, Volkswagen recently launched a subsidiary company for energy services and charging solutions.

Electric Life Orchestra

The smart name is an abbreviation for “Electric Life”. Via Elli, private households as well as small and medium-sized businesses across Germany can obtain green electricity since February. To coincide with the launch of the ID., the new company will start selling Volkswagen wallboxes and associated charging services. A comprehensive ecosystem for sustainable electric mobility will gradually be created – one that is explicitly aimed at fleet customers too. Elli CEO Thorsten Nicklass explained: “Major customers want individual solutions so that they can charge their electric vehicles as cheaply as possible or assign the costs to different departments.” In view of this, the company is already working hard to come up with suitable business services. Customers of the Group brands will also be able to use Elli charging cards to obtain sustainable electricity at around 80,000 charging stations in strategic locations throughout Europe. Additional practical features such as an app for finding and reserving the nearest charging point will round off the services for those who drive frequently as part of their work. True to the motto: if you do something, do it right!

More information about Elli can be found at www.elli.eco

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