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How we become CO₂-neutral

Visionary Bill Gates writes in his new book "How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need" about the steps that are necessary to ensure the survival of the planet. The solution to the climate problem by 2050 at the latest is indispensable for this. Volkswagen is also committed to the Paris climate goals and wants to be CO₂-neutral by 2050. Here, CEO Herbert Diess explains the measures the company is taking to achieve this.

Herbert Diess: “The climate crisis is the greatest challenge of our time.”

Herbert Diess, chairman of the board of directors at Volkswagen AG

The climate crisis is the greatest challenge of our time. To mitigate its impact, it is imperative that we limit global warming. This is why the Volkswagen Group is clearly committed to the Paris climate targets. The plan: By 2050, the entire Group is to be CO₂-neutral on the balance sheet - this includes vehicles as well as plants and processes.

I am convinced that we have a responsibility and an obligation to make our contribution to limiting climate change and work towards our goals with utmost consistency. We at Volkswagen have the opportunity and ability to do so. That is why Volkswagen is taking action.

Some Examples from our Transformation Process


  • Volkswagen is focusing on battery-based electromobility: electric vehicles have the best climate footprint of all drive systems over their entire service life. The range already includes electric vehicles, making electromobility mass market-compatible.
  • Manufacturing of the ID.3 (combined power consumption in kWh/100 km (NEDC): 15.4-14.5, CO2 emissions in g/km: 0; efficiency class: A+) and ID.4 (power consumption in kWh/100 km (NEDC): combined 16.9-15.5; CO2 emissions in g/km: 0; efficiency class: A+) models is balance sheet carbon-neutral. The battery production facilities use green electricity exclusively while Volkswagen compensates any emissions generated in supply chains and manufacturing processes that cannot be avoided today by supporting climate projects.
  • By 2030, the Group will have brought to market 70 fully electric models as well as 60 hybrid vehicles across all brands.
  • In the next ten years, Volkswagen plans to build roughly 26 million vehicles on its electric platforms. The Group also plans to sell six million hybrid vehicles in that period.
  • In five years, Volkswagen aims to boost sales of battery electric vehicles (BEV) to make up between 20 and 25 percent of sales in its product range.
  • By 2030, VW targets BEV sales growth to account for at least 40 percent of the new car fleet in Europe and China.
  • According to current plans, the Volkswagen Group will be investing almost 73 billion euros in electromobility, digitalization, and hybridization until 2025. 35 billion euros of that alone will go towards electromobility. In China, VW is investing a further 15 billion euros in electromobility.
  • Volkswagen is electrifying its fleet of company cars. The ID.3 (combined power consumption in kWh/100 km (NEDC): 15.4-14.5, CO2 emissions in g/km: 0; efficiency class: A+) is particularly popular as a company car. Managers are to lead by example, practice internally what VW aims to achieve on the market, and show the way forward.
  • Volkswagen gives investors the opportunity to invest in the future of electromobility with Green Bonds. The funds specifically help refinance projects related to the modular electric drive matrix (MEB) and the new all-electric ID.3 (combined power consumption in kWh/100 km (NEDC): 15.4-14.5, CO2 emissions in g/km: 0; efficiency class: A+) and ID.4 (power consumption in kWh/100 km (NEDC): combined 16.9-15.5; CO2 emissions in g/km: 0; efficiency class: A+) models.

Batteries, Charging and Green Electricity

  • Volkswagen is taking a holistic approach in its transition to electromobility: Besides manufacturing electric cars, the Group produces battery cells, builds charging infrastructure, and supplies green electricity.
  • The Group already offers 100 percent renewably sourced, totally carbon-free Volkswagen Naturstrom (natural electricity) for private households and companies in Germany through its subsidiary Elli.
  • Volkswagen believes in its batteries, giving a guarantee of eight years and up to 160,000 km for them. Once the batteries can no longer be charged to their full capacity, they can be used to store energy in charging stations before they are recycled. Volkswagen is already studying uses for spent electric batteries at its pilot battery recycling plant in Salzgitter. From 2020 onwards, the Group is able to recycle up to 3,000 vehicle batteries and process up to 1,200 tonnes of battery material annually. Volkswagen aims to create a closed loop with a recycling rate of over 90 percent.
  • In terms of the charging infrastructure, Volkswagen provides 150,000 public charging stations throughout Europe with WeCharge. The stations can be accessed with a single charging card.
  • The Volkswagen Group has found a European partner for its own battery cell manufacturing facility in Salzgitter: Northvolt. It aims to drive cell manufacturing forward in Germany with joint expertise and sustainable, carbon-optimized production processes.
  • VW introduced a new rating system in 2019 that requires suppliers to establish clean production workflows and to uphold human rights and rights of participation. Volkswagen ensures enhanced transparency and responsibility in its supply chain for battery raw materials with RCS Global, an agency specializing in supply chain analysis. This focuses on assessing compliance with human rights, safe working conditions, and the suppliers’ measures to protect the environment along the entire supply chain, starting from the mines.

The Climate Neutrality Roadmap

  • By 2030, the Group aims to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions from production and use of its vehicles by 30 percent compared to 2018. The independent Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) has certified that Volkswagen‘s climate targets meet the Paris Climate Agreement requirements.
  • Volkswagen will actively drive the transition to renewable energies throughout the entire life cycle of a car. Currently, 41 percent of the electricity consumed by the Group’s production processes is renewably sourced. 43 Group locations already use electricity from renewable sources only. In order to reduce absolute CO₂ emissions in production by 30 percent, Volkswagen plans to gradually increase the proportion of renewable energy in externally sourced electricity for production to 100 percent renewable by 2030 – first EU-wide by 2023 (ŠKO-ENERGO by 2030 at the latest), then worldwide by 2030. For China, they are currently examining the availability of sufficient green electricity.
  • The Volkswagen Group is proactively pursuing energy efficiency-boosting projects in its 125 manufacturing facilities worldwide. Group-wide, the Group implemented more than 1,650 energy and CO₂ measures in 2019 and 2020 alone.
  • Power stations in the Wolfsburg Volkswagen plant will transition fully from coal to natural gas by the end of 2022. This will reduce the CO₂ emissions of the two power stations by around 60 percent, or 1.5 million tonnes each year, approximately equivalent to the emissions of 870,000 combustion engine cars in the same period.
  • The AUDI plant in Brussels and Györ, Volkswagen in Zwickau and Dresden, ŠKODA in Vrchlabí, and Bentley in Crewe are the Group’s first balance sheet carbon-neutral facilities. For example, Bentley generates all its electrical energy either from solar power systems on-site or sources it as certified green electricity.
  • Volkwagen has established a climate-neutral computer center in Norway with Green Mountain. Sourcing 100 percent of its electricity from hydroelectric power, it avoids CO₂ emissions of over 5,800 tonnes compared with a conventionally powered computer center. Volkswagen Passenger Cars and AUDI will harness this computing power for high-performance servers in their vehicle development departments.
  • Early 2021, the Group logistics transitioned all inner-German material and vehicle transportation with Deutsche Bahn to green electricity. Annually, this avoids more than 26,700 tonnes of CO₂ emissions compared to a conventional electricity mix.
  • For the Volkswagen plant in Palmela, Portugal, the Group reactivated a railway to transport finished vehicles to the port of Setúbal. The train will run up to four times daily and deliver around 500 vehicles to the port. That replaces 63 truck trips and avoids 400 tonnes of CO₂ emissions per year.
  • By using the two largest types of truck trailers on the market, the duo trailer (31.7 meters long) and giga trailer (25.25 meters long), for transportation at the SEAT plant in Martorell, Spain, Volkswagen is reducing CO₂ emissions by 30 percent compared to conventional trucks. This also reduces the number of trucks on the road. Additionally, the plant uses rail transport with a direct connection to the port of Barcelona and to the plant in Zona Franca.
  • In Volkswagen‘s maritime logistics, the Group already uses two freighters powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG). LNG burns cleaner than conventional liquid fuels, and one tank full is enough for the entire Germany-Mexico-Germany round trip.
  • Through the new CO₂ fund, the Group supports projects that reduce CO₂ emissions internally in specific ways. The fund currently has an annual budget of 25 million euros.
  • Volkswagen has incorporated a decarbonization index (DKI) into the Group strategy as a transparent indicator on its roadmap to climate neutrality. The Group publishes its progress as part reporting activities.
  • The corporate environmental mission statement ‘goTOzero’ unites all of Volkswagen‘s environmental measures in one concept. ‘goTOzero’ embodies a sustainable way of doing business that minimizes pollution and strives towards balance sheet carbon-neutrality. Its four focus areas are climate change, resources, air quality, and environmental compliance.

From A to Z

The Volkswagen Group will achive its goal of being climate neutral by 2050 by taking a holistic approach based on these steps:

1. Reduce energy consumption effectively and sustainably.
2. Switch energy supply to renewable sources.
3. Compensate the emissions that currently cannot be avoided.

In conjunction with the electrification strategy, these three principles enable Volkswagen to effectively contribute to combatting global warming. Like Herbert Diess says: „We must not and will not miss any opportunity to further improve our resource efficiency and promote approaches to reuse and recycle materials, energy, and water“.  

Herbert Diess comment on LinkedIn

Dr. Herbert Diess, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft

Bill Gates shows how fighting climate change can work! Read more

Fuel consumption

ID.3 (combined power consumption in kWh/100 km (NEDC): 15.4-14.5, CO2 emissions in g/km: 0; efficiency class: A+)

ID.4 (power consumption in kWh/100 km (NEDC): combined 16.9-15.5; CO2 emissions in g/km: 0; efficiency class: A+)

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