Despite the current corona crisis, the fight against global warming remains one of the most important global challenges. As part of Earth Day on April 22, we explain what Volkswagen is doing for climate protection. We have also compiled assessments of climate change by leading scientists in a dossier.
Volkswagen is committed to the Paris Climate Convention and is pushing ahead with environmentally friendly drive technologies and production methods at full speed. Throughout the Group, the company has committed itself to becoming CO₂ balance sheet neutral by 2050.
The clear focus on electromobility makes a key contribution to this. Because: the battery-powered electric car has the best climate balance sheet of all drive types. This is the result of a large number of scientific studies, among others by the Fraunhofer Institute, the Federal Ministry for the Environment and the Agora Verkehrswende think tank.
Earth Day Dossier:
Volkswagen Group aims to become the global market leader in e-mobility in the coming years and is investing a total of 33 billion euros to achieve this goal by the end of 2024. Volkswagen is electrifying its product portfolio in all segments. By 2029, the Group will launch up to 75 pure e-models and sell 26 million e-cars. By the end of the decade, almost every second Group vehicle sold in Europe and China could be an e-car.
High ranges offering plenty of space
The technical and economic backbone of the E-offensive is the modular electric drive matrix (MEB). Around 20 million of the Group’s electric vehicles planned by 2029 are based on the new electric platform. The vehicle architecture, specially designed for electric drive, offers long ranges of up to 550 kilometers, plenty of interior space and outstanding performance. “The MEB is a decisive asset,” said Frank Blome, Head of the Battery Cell Business Unit, in an interview.
As the first electric car based on the MEB, the Volkswagen brand is launching the compact ID.3, which is scheduled for a European-wide market launch in summer 2020. The ID.4, the brand’s first purely electric SUV, will also be launched this year. Both vehicles will be delivered in a CO₂ balance sheet-neutral manner. Volkswagen will convert a total of eight plants for the production of MEB vehicles by 2022.
For the ID. family models, Volkswagen focuses on the entire lifecycle of the electric car – from raw material extraction to production and recycling. The company follows a clear principle: wherever possible, CO₂ emissions are avoided. If this is not fully achievable, emissions are reduced as far as possible. Emissions that cannot be avoided at present are offset by investments in climate protection projects.
For the service life, Volkswagen offers many opportunities to “fill-up” the e-car with climate-friendly electricity. For charging at home, there is Volkswagen Naturstrom: for every kilowatt hour the customer consumes, the same amount of electricity from renewable sources such as wind power, solar energy or hydroelectric power is fed into the grid. Currently, most of the electricity comes from hydroelectric power plants in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Whilst underway, customers charge with 100 percent green electricity at the fast-charging stations belonging to the IONITY joint venture.
Zwickau plant as a pioneer
In production, Volkswagen is reducing its ecological footprint across the Group as part of its “goTOzero” environmental mission statement: By 2025, the plants aim to reduce CO₂ emissions per vehicle produced by 45 per cent compared to 2010. The Zwickau electric vehicle plant is one of the pioneers in this respect: it only uses externally certified Volkswagen Naturstrom electricity from renewable sources. It also has a highly efficient combined heat power (CHP) plant that in the long term will be operated with CO₂-neutral gas. Buildings and systems are continuously being optimized for energy efficiency, for example by using frequency-controlled fans and pumps. In this way, electricity, water and heat requirements are continuously reduced.
Green electricity is also used for the energy-intensive battery cell production at suppliers. Since July 1, 2019, Volkswagen has also been auditing its suppliers according to a global sustainability rating. In 2019, around 12,000 suppliers were surveyed and around 1,300 sustainability audits were carried out.
In the transition to a CO₂-neutral economy lies a great economic opportunity. “With the strategic goal of becoming the world’s leading provider of e-mobility, focusing on consistent decarbonization can be a strong competitive advantage,” said Georg Kell, spokesman for Volkswagen’s independent sustainability advisory board. “In any case, it offers the best way to set the course for a joint path to a secure and economically successful future on a planet worth living on.”
ID.3: The vehicle is not yet offered for sale in Europe
ID.4: The vehicle is a near-series study