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Sustainability in Automotive 2024

05-12-2024 – Virtually at your workplace

Sustainability in Automotive 2023

Concepts – Production – Supply Chain – Business Models

3rd International ATZ Digital Conference on Sustainability

07-12-2023 – virtually at your workplace

Main subject areas

Importance of sustainability in the automotive industry

Exemplary sustainability projects

Development steps in construction and production

Author: Thomas Schneider

News from the Sustainability in Automotive 2023

Circular Economy as a Basic Prerequisite

Current requirements and trends in the field of sustainability were discussed at the ATZ conference Sustainability in Automotive 2023. Key elements are a circular economy and design-to-CO2.

The third edition of the International ATZ Digital Conference Sustainability in Automotive made it clear that OEMs and suppliers are under enormous pressure to define and implement sustainability targets for their products. Standards and requirements set by politicians, but increasingly also the wishes of customers, make the fulfilment of high sustainability targets an important criterion for success for companies.

Clear Goals and Involvement of the Supply Chain

In their keynote speech "The Impact of the Circular Economy on the Automotive Industry – How to Prevent Sustainability Risks", Patrick Klaver and Marcus Schneider from Assent outlined the measures that companies can take to fulfil the increased requirements. Realistic and binding target definitions are just as important here as the implementation of current industry standards and comprehensive documentation of the product development process. In addition, a circular economy must be established in order to realise reuse and recycling on a large scale.

As the majority of the carbon footprint in the automotive sector in particular is attributable to supplied products and raw materials, the targets must be applied to the entire supply chain. According to Klaver, this is where the greatest risks lie. To avoid the suspicion of greenwashing, transparent reporting of all process steps from material extraction to production and product recycling is necessary. Certification with the help of environmental quality labels can also be helpful.

Life Cycle Assessment and Electromobility

The importance of considering the entire life cycle was also emphasised by Dr. Philipp Seidel from Arthur D. Little in his presentation "Automotive Sustainability beyond Greenwashing – a Reality Check in Times of Multi-Crisis". Seidel emphasised the challenges for companies operating in a difficult environment with changing technology, uncertain geopolitical factors and different requirements on the global market. In addition, customer requirements with regard to the sustainability of products have risen sharply in recent years.

According to Seidel, electromobility is generally the most expedient solution, as the utilisation phase accounts for the largest share of the CO2 footprint of cars. However, it is crucial to consider the real energy mix and the use of renewable energy sources. Arthur D. Little's Global Electric Mobility Readiness Index 2023 also shows that, with the exception of Norway and China, all countries have some catching up to do in this area, meaning that they are not yet ready for a switch in terms of the market, infrastructure and consumers.

Batteries for Electric Cars

A key factor in the environmental footprint of battery-powered electric vehicles is battery production, which is energy-intensive and therefore CO2-intensive. In this area, the EU has defined targets in its battery regulation to increase the sustainability and recyclability of energy storage systems, which manufacturers and suppliers will have to implement in the coming years. In his presentation on the digital battery passport, Martin Rothbart from AVL List explained that manufacturers have by far the greatest influence on CO2 emissions in the early development phase of products.

The tool, which received an award at the 2023 Sustainability Award in Automotive, uses a digital twin to generate and document detailed information about the energy consumption for each battery produced and its performance. This makes it possible to develop products with CO2 as one of the central criteria (design-to-CO2) and to ensure the traceability of energy storage systems throughout their entire life cycle. Here too, a circular economy through secondary use and reuse of the materials used is a basic prerequisite for being able to fulfil the sustainability targets that have been set.

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