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.
Turning old into new
Remanufactured vehicle components not only offer good-as-new quality and save the customer money. Above all, they also help the environment.
Vehicle components contain valuable raw materials. That’s why Volkswagen takes back a wide range of used components for remanufacturing, from engine and transmission parts to electronic systems. After final testing, these remanufactured parts – which go by the name of Volkswagen Genuine Remanufactured Parts – can then be reused in other vehicles.
Should their vehicle need a repair, at the repair shop Volkswagen customers can choose between a brand-new replacement part or a Genuine Remanufactured Part. These remanufactured parts offer as-new quality, but at a much lower price than new parts. What’s more, using such parts also saves vast amounts of raw materials and energy, while also reducing CO2 emissions.
These savings have been precisely quantified at Volkswagen. In a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) carried out in accordance with ISO 14040, Volkswagen calculated the environmental impacts of a newly manufactured MQ 250 5-speed transmission and compared them with those of a Genuine Remanufactured Part. The LCA revealed reductions in energy consumption and CO2 emissions of 33% and approximately 28% respectively for the remanufactured transmission. Photochemical ozone impacts – think ‘summer smog’ – are reduced too, by 41% compared with a new transmission.
There is nothing new about the idea of turning used parts into new. Way back in 1947, Volkswagen became the first carmaker to offer a range of remanufactured parts, all of them backed by warranty. This initiative proved so popular that many other car brands launched similar projects of their own. The Genuine Remanufactured Parts of today, which are available from Volkswagen, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Audi, Seat and Skoda, allow customers to not only save themselves a lot of money, but also help the environment.
“Remanufactured parts cut energy consumption by 33% and CO2 emissions by 28%.”
Why imposing order is good for the environment
Material flow analysis provides clarity and insight. Volkswagen is committed to environmentally friendly, resource-efficient production, which is influenced by a whole array of factors. The environmental experts at Volkswagen use material flow analysis to gain a thorough insight into production processes around the globe.
Of course we all know our own home; it’s where we live! Or do we? Could you list exactly what is in every room of your house? In every corner of the cellar, every nook and cranny of the pantry? Perhaps there are forgotten treasures in the attic; it might be worth taking a look.
Volkswagen is doing precisely that. Even large companies have their forgotten corners that lead to wasted resources and unnecessary costs. Mindful of this, Volkswagen conducts regular, careful inspections.
Analyzing production processes worldwide
Environmental experts use material flow analysis to scrutinize the Volkswagen production processes and ascertain precisely where – and how efficiently – materials, feedstocks and energy are utilized. The company records all relevant material flows Group-wide in the form of meter readings or units of material. Group environmental officers and on-site experts then analyze the comparative figures to identify any anomalies. How much water is really needed to rinse a workpiece? Where exactly are volatile organic compounds (VOCs) generated, and which ones specifically? They then use this knowledge to devise targeted improvements and resolve the problem.
3.7 tonnes less waste each year
Specifically, this means that even though a production process may be working perfectly, and delivering the required high-quality results, there may still be hidden anomalies. For an example we turn to the Volkswagen Slovakia paint shop in Bratislava, where material flow analysis revealed an unexpectedly large volume of water in the filter waste containers at the end of the paint line. These were having to be emptied much more frequently than expected. The underlying cause was soon pinpointed and easily rectified with a new drip tray. This alone has saved the company more than 9,000 filters per annum, valued at around €100,000, and reduced waste by 3.7 tonnes per annum.
A Group-wide tool centrally collates these results, together with a description of the successful measures, which are made available as examples of best practice. This is one instance where imitation is not just permitted, but actively encouraged ...
“3.7 tonnes less waste per annum”
Don’t scrap it, remanufacture it
Let’s say you’re thinking of buying a new bike. Which of the following two options would you think is better for the environment: to professionally remanufacture a high-quality pre-owned bike, or to manufacture a brand-new one from scratch?
As you might expect – the remanufactured bike is a much better option from the environmental point of view. It doesn’t require any extraction and processing of new resources, while transportation and distribution requirements are greatly reduced too – all of which cuts costs. And the great news is that the same principle that works for bikes also delivers big benefits when applied to the auto industry.
Take commercial vehicle manufacturer MAN, for example: Under its MAN Genuine parts ecoline scheme, MAN Truck & Bus takes back used engines and 55 other product groups based on a deposit-and-return system. If these parts are found to be reusable they are professionally remanufactured, then sold on to customers looking for an attractively priced repair option. This has big environmental benefits. Because remanufacturing not only cuts costs by approximately 30 % per component, it also reduces energy consumption by 80 %, while the reduction in resource use is higher still.
Remanufacturing comprises the following steps: First of all the returned used items are dismantled into their component parts and thoroughly cleaned. All surfaces are then measured using special equipment – because top performance depends on correct dimensions. Following this a variety of machining operations are performed, such as grinding and polishing. The finished remanufactured parts are then inspected using the same test equipment used for newly manufactured products. MAN then offers the products which pass this inspection with the same warranty as a new product – but with a much lower price tag. Approximately 3,900 remanufactured products are currently offered under this initiative – from turbochargers, differentials, coolant pumps and alternators to cylinder heads.
“Costs, resource use and energy consumption reduced by 30 percent.”
MAN launches first all-electric production model
Parcel delivery firms and tradesmen invariably use vans, as do the operators of those increasingly popular street-food trucks. Statistics show that most of these LCVs cover less than 100 kilometers a day, made up largely of short urban journeys – the ideal operating profile for an electric vehicle.
That’s the theory, and now comes the practice, because MAN is starting volume production of its first all-electric light commercial vehicle, the MAN eTGE, which is great news for the environment in particular. The benefits are maximized if the vehicle is charged with renewable electricity, bringing service-life CO2 emissions down to almost zero. To see the environmental advantages in concrete terms, consider the following theoretical example: If a diesel-powered delivery van with an official average fuel consumption of 7.2 l/100 km and covering 80 km a day is replaced by the electrically powered MAN eTGE, the reduction in CO2 emissions per working day amounts to 14.9 kg. Based on 240 working days a year, that adds up to total annual CO2 savings of approximately 3.6 tonnes. And the environmental benefits don’t stop there, because the electric drive system is also extremely quiet.
In suitable applications involving a large number of short urban journeys, an electric van is the right choice financially, too – particularly for users who charge the vehicle with their own self-generated solar power. Further benefits include lower maintenance costs, while in some cases operators are also entitled to claim state subsidies or tax incentives. When all these advantages are added up, the higher purchase price of the MAN eTGE, which retails at approximately € 69,500 in Germany, can be offset relatively quickly.
Although many businesses remain skeptical about the everyday practicality of electric vans, here too the MAN eTGE checks all the boxes: Driving range is 160 km; maximum output is 100 kW, and 290 Nm of torque – available over the entire engine speed range – makes for agile performance. Depending on version, the MAN eTGE can be rated for a maximum payload of 1,700 kg. The driving range indicated above will, of course, be influenced by both payload and route topography, while charging times vary depending on the available infrastructure. They start at approximately nine hours for a full charge from a 220V AC outlet. A three-phase AC wallbox is faster, fully charging the MAN eTGE in just under five-and-a-half hours, while a 40-kW charging station will recharge the battery to 80% capacity in just 45 minutes.
“Annual CO2 emissions reduced by approximately 3.6 tonnes – per vehicle.”
Going for gas – for the environment’s sake
Scania’s 410-hp truck engine demonstrates that there doesn’t have to be a tradeoff between more power and lower pollutant emissions.
While natural-gas engines are widely recognized as an environmentally friendly alternative for cars, it’s a different story when it comes to heavy-duty trucks. Here, many manufacturers remain skeptical, clinging to the old preconception that gas-powered trucks offer “not enough power and not enough range”. Now, with its new 13-liter natural-gas engine for heavy-duty trucks, Scania has stepped up to challenge this conventional view. The OC13 is a sustainable solution whose main applications will be in long-haul transport and construction-site operation.
Developing 410 hp, this gas engine delivers similar performance to comparable truck diesel engines, while at the same time offering big reductions in CO2 emissions. Depending on what engine is chosen for comparison purposes and depending on type of usage, the CO2 reductions range from at least 15 percent to as much as 90 percent. What’s more, the gas engine also delivers reduced emissions of NOx and fine particulates, compared with a diesel engine, and is also significantly quieter.
“In the past, most gas engines lacked the necessary performance or range to be of genuine interest for heavy-duty applications. With the OC13 gas engine, Scania has resolved these issues. Reduced CO2 emissions and enhanced customer profitability are now feasible,” says Johan Mühlbach, Product Manager Gas, Scania Trucks.
The OC13 is Scania’s latest move to reduce the environmental footprint of commercial vehicles. At the same time, the long range capability of the OC13 makes it a particularly attractive option for heavy-duty applications. Operating on LNG (liquefied natural gas), semitrailer rigs with GVW ratings up to 40 tonnes can cover as much as 1,100 kilometers on one tank of fuel. And with twin LNG tanks, anything up to 1,600 kilometers is possible. And while the refueling infrastructure is still rudimentary, with just two LNG truck filling stations in Germany at the present time, the EU Blue Corridors project plans to have 14 LNG filling stations in place along the main European transport corridors. The aim is to have one LNG filling station every 400 kilometers on these routes by 2025.
“CO2 emissions reduced by at least 15 percent.”
MOIA launches green service with whisper-quiet electric vehicles
MOIA is launching its highly efficient and flexible shuttle-on-demand service with environmentally friendly electric vehicles in Hamburg. This service complements the city’s local mass transit network and is set to become available to the general public in 2019.
And this is how it works: Customers can book the service via a smartphone app. They simply enter their location and destination and the MOIA vehicle arrives at a virtual stop no more than 250 meters away. The app navigates the customer directly to where the vehicle will stop and the service will likely cost less than a taxi.
The concept is based on the principle of ride pooling, where you share your journey with other customers travelling in a similar direction. An algorithm collates the journey requests, ensuring that the vehicles are used to optimum capacity and that customers do not have to wait for other passengers. “This principle benefits the environment in that people can leave their own vehicles at home, reducing the amount of traffic on the roads,” says MOIA press spokesman Christoph Ziegenmeyer.
Studies have shown that in big cities like Hamburg, private cars stand idle for more than 95 percent of the time on average (around 23 hours a day). Ride-pooling services offer an alternative which makes customers less reliant on their own cars. Pooling individual journeys makes more efficient use of the streets – not least because the downtown parking situation is eased, with fewer drivers searching for a parking slot. And if the shuttle vehicles are electric – as is the case in Hamburg – the environment also benefits from zero local emissions and very quiet running.
The MOIA electric vehicles have room for six people and a range-between-charges of around 300 kilometers (measured according to WLTP). Their empty battery can be charged to up to 80 percent capacity in about 30 minutes – providing the necessary level of everyday practicality.
Meanwhile, in Hanover, MOIA’s shared taxis have been in operation for some time now. The test phase involving 35 Volkswagen Multivan T6 vehicles was successfully completed in July 2018, since when anyone in Hanover can call up a MOIA cab.
"Fewer journeys, zero local emissions and astonishingly quiet".
Here you’ll find the most recent additions to this website. But there are many other exciting projects to discover under the various headings. These are sorted by the phases in the vehicle life cycle. Simply click on one of the tiles above.
News: Environment at Volkswagen Group
*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.