The environmental impact of cars is at its greatest when they are out on the road, which underlines the importance of the use phase in the vehicle life cycle. That’s why Volkswagen builds cars that drive as efficiently as possible – enabling drivers to enjoy eco-compatible mobility. Here are some examples.
Power to go
Charging electric vehicles as they drive – how practical would that be? Scania has linked up with Siemens to research a technology that would make this a real-life scenario.
Long and heavy freight trains drawing the power they need for their journey from overhead lines is a familiar scene on the railroads. And now Scania has adopted a similar approach to powering its trucks and buses, supplying the necessary electricity via lines above the road. In a world first, a stretch of road in Sweden roughly two kilometers long has been converted to supply vehicles with electric power. In operation since 2016, this allows the Euro-6 hybrid vehicles deployed during a two-year pilot project to drive with zero local emissions. It’s all part of Sweden’s ambitious goal to wean the country’s transport sector off fossil fuels by 2030.
Here’s how it works: Pantographs on the roof of each truck connect with the overhead lines, feeding electricity to the electric motor and batteries. If the trucks need to change lane or the overhead lines come to an end, either the freshly charged battery or the combustion engine take over propulsion duties.
The same principle has been undergoing tests since 2017 on a 1.6-kilometer eHighway test route between the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in the US state of California. And a 10-kilometer section of the A5 autobahn is due to enter service as Germany’s first electric road in late 2018. Given the huge potential benefits for the environment, this development is something of a non-brainer. The transport sector accounts for around one third of the CO₂ emissions generated by road traffic, and trucks powered by this type of overhead line system could reduce emissions by up to 90 percent, always assuming that the electricity they utilize is sourced from renewables.
Electric trucks could cut CO₂ emissions by up to 90 percent
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 in g/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.
I’m lovin’ it, says the environment
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.
eTrucks – the quiet distribution solution
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.
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.
*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.