VW to cut environmental impact of carmaking by 45 percent


Volkswagen Golf uses 27.5 percent less water

Volkswagen Golf uses 27.5 percent less water

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In the wake of its diesel emission scandal, Volkswagen has done its best to portray itself as a cleaner, more thoughtful automaker.

Part of the damage control plot includes a slew of new electric vehicles to round out the German automaker's portfolio in the coming years.

But, what about the environmental impact and carbon-emission burden of the actual manufacturing process?

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Volkswagen says it has now achieved its goal of a 25-percent reduction in CO2 emissions, energy and water consumption, waste production and solvent emissions this year.

The original timetable was set for 2018, but the automaker's strategy has accelerated its leaner, cleaner manufacturing.

Now, Volkswagen has set a goal of a 45-percent reduction in resources by the year 2025.

Volkswagen I.D. Buzz concept, 2017 Detroit auto show

Volkswagen I.D. Buzz concept, 2017 Detroit auto show

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Both the current and future goals revolve around the "Think Blue" factory strategy, which calls for heightened scrutiny over natural resources.

Today, a Volkswagen Golf uses 27.5 percent less water for production than in 2010 through a variety of changes implemented at VW factories.

The automaker says 5,300 individual measures have been implemented to meet the cuts to environmental impact.

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The measures include changes to paint shops to reduce base-load energy consumption; that optimization resulted in a 15-percent reduction in energy consumption during non-production times.

Eight plants across the globe have also switched entirely to renewable sources of energy to power production lines.

The move has saved roughly $145 million in the past six years, the company says.


Climate impact in CO2 equivalents of lifecycle for Volkswagen Golf 1.6 TDI (European model)

Climate impact in CO2 equivalents of lifecycle for Volkswagen Golf 1.6 TDI (European model)

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Volkswagen has been working to implement measures in order to reduce the carbon footprint of its vehicles both in the energy used to power them and the parts and manufacturing of the car itself.

As fuel efficiency for new vehicles climbs, so does the amount of energy required to manufacture the car, per a 2014 study.

An MIT study concluded just 6 percent of a vehicle's overall carbon footprint came from its manufacturing and raw materials in the year 2000.

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In 2014, for Volkswagen's most fuel-efficient small diesel model, it was fully 22 percent—a drastic jump as resources and manufacturing processes become more intricate and fuel consumption plummeted.

The rising cost means measures like those detailed by Volkswagen are becoming increasingly more important.

In total, Volkswagen has achieved an average reduction of 29.2 percent in environmental impact—energy  was cut by 23.5 percent, CO2  by 28.6 percent, waste by 58.6 percent, water by 27.5 percent, and solvent emissions by 7.6 percent.

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