The goal is to be carbon-neutral across all production sites by 2025 and that involves numerous strategies working in tandem in order to hit the target.

24 November, 2020

It’s no small thing for a manufacturer as large as Audi to just cut its carbon footprint to zero, but that’s exactly the goal AUDI AG has set itself – setting tough targets in the lead up to ultimately achieving zero emissions.

Audi produced nearly two million vehicles last year (1.8 million to be precise), and while the lion’s share of emissions in a vehicle’s lifecycle are generated while it is being used, “with the growing proportion of electrified vehicles, these emissions increasingly shift to the manufacturing phase,” says Peter Kössler, Member of the Board of Management of AUDI AG for Production and Logistics.

“This is where we have a decisive lever as manufacturers. By achieving carbon neutrality for our production sites and consistently carrying this aspiration into our supply chain, we ensure that our automobiles reach the customer with a smaller carbon footprint.”

To that end, Audi has set itself the ambitious goal of progressively achieving a 30 percent reduction of vehicle-specific CO2 emissions by 2025 – compared to 2015 (the reference year) and along the entire product lifecycle. 

This is an ongoing process that Audi has been pursuing for some time with considerable success. In 2018, Audi Brussels (where the Audi e-tron is produced) was awarded the certificate for CO2-neutral production and the Győr plant in Hungary recently became the brand’s second CO2-neutral site – its 36,400 solar cells covering an area roughly the size of 22 football fields producing 9.5 gigawatt hours of energy per year and saving 4,900 metric tonnes of CO2. 

Audi's Győr plant in Hungary boasts a massive 36,400 solar cells on its roof – one of the largest installations in Europe.

“We have already implemented actions at our remaining locations, Ingolstadt, Neckarsulm and San José Chiapa, Mexico, which avoid between 70 and 75 percent of the CO2 emissions that would otherwise be generated,” says Rüdiger Recknagel, Chief Environmental Officer for the Audi Group.

But the work on reducing emissions is not confined to Audi facilities, the brand using the so-called ‘Green Train’ to transport vehicles from Ingolstadt to the North Sea lading port of Emden since 2012. Audi’s Neckarsulm facility also employs the ‘green train’ for transportation to Emden, and where rail-bound shipments are not possible, climate-friendly alternatives are used.

Audi, together with its suppliers, is especially addressing actions that are effective in the early manufacturing stage and as early as 2018 initiated a CO2 program in the supply chain to identify actions that could lead to further CO2 reductions jointly with its suppliers. The main opportunities here are in closed material loops and the increase of recycling materials and the use of green electricity. This initiative should be fully functioning by 2025 and has an average CO2 reduction potential of 1.2 metric tons per car.

These closed production loops have tremendous potential for savings and the rollout of the ‘Aluminium Closed Loop’ for example in Audi’s stamping plants in 2019 alone reduced the carbon footprint 150,000 metric tons. This secondary use of aluminium saving up to 95 percent energy compared to the use of primary aluminium.

The Aluminium Closed Loop is currently used in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm with the Győr plant to follow in 2021. At the moment, secondary aluminium content has been integrated in parts of the Audi A3, A4, A5, A6, A7 and A8 bodies, plus in parts of the Audi e-tron and e-tron Sportback. Beginning at the end of this year, secondary aluminium will also be used in the Audi e-tron GT being produced at the Neckarsulm location, with additional model ranges and locations to follow. 

In Australia, the brand recently introduced the Audi e-tron to market and has also made the commitment to use 100 percent renewable energy as a business from next year – echoing the efforts the brand is making globally.

These are just some of the many and varied initiatives that are helping Audi reach its goals and in doing so, helping to create a cleaner, brighter future for all. A significant task, certainly, but one that continues to be right on track.