Audi aims to become the first premium brand to go carbon-neutral. In order to achieve this, it is optimising each single element of its value chain. Here is an overview of the key improvements and initiatives.
Audi has set out on a journey to reduce its carbon emissions by 30 percent over the next five years and to become carbon-neutral by 2050: a great transformation, that involves every stage of a vehicle’s life cycle. Let’s try and summarise the six main areas.
Research and development
A rigorous electrification of the vehicle fleets plays a key part in the process, and therefore the Research and Development Department is decisive. The team is currently working on introducing 30 electrified models to the market by 2025. The fleet already includes mild-hybrids, plug-in hybrids and 100% electric vehicles.
Not only is Audi making its own processes more sustainable, it is also supporting business partners to do the same. Its commitment to corporate responsibility means that Audi wishes to collaborate only with partners who adopt the same approach in both their philosophies and their actions. This not only includes environmental protection, but also social conditions – and therefore employee rights and integrity. A mandatory sustainability rating records and governs just how well suppliers are able to implement the guidelines set by Audi.
The electrification of the vehicle fleet has led to an increased percentage of the CO2 emissions created during the procurement and production phases. That’s why Audi is working with its suppliers to develop specific measures to reduce emissions. For example, the Audi CO2 program focuses on the production of materials that require a particularly high level of energy – namely aluminum and steel, as well as battery components. Respecting and protecting human rights is a priority here, as it is at all times. Therefore, supply chains that are associated with particularly high risks, such as the extraction of the raw materials that are required for electric mobility, are monitored very carefully.
For decades now, Audi has been increasing the “fitness” of its production through intelligent, digitally connected high-tech solutions. The basis of environmentally compatible production at Audi is the environmental and energy management systems that have been gradually introduced since 1995. These systems are crucial when it comes to achieving “Mission:Zero“ – that is, production with the lowest possible impact on the environment.
All Audi plants are pursuing ambitious goals and – through the application of circular economy principles and more efficient production – are gradually reducing CO2 emissions, energy and water consumption, the use of organic solvents (VOC), and waste creation. By 2025, the aim is to achieve net zero carbon emissions for all Audi plants.
Since 2018, the plant in Brussels has been a role model – as the world’s first certified carbon-neutral production plant in the premium segment. Throughout 2019, decarbonisation was promoted through many projects: 71,300 megawatt hours of energy and 10,000 tons of CO2 emissions were saved at the sites in Neckarsulm, Brussels, Gyor and San José Chiapa (Mexico).
In the future, Audi will invest 50 percent of its marketing budget in topics pertaining to electric mobility. The company plans to make new forms of propulsion even more emotionally tangible, dismantle any possible reservations and ignite enthusiasm. “The future is electric” podcast, which ran alongside the launch of the e-tron in Germany, is one successful example.
But it is not just digital channels where Audi is leading the way; the company also has tangible and sustainable concepts for the future of sales. Since the fall of 2019, the new Audi Brand Experience Center at Munich Airport has served as a way for the company to demonstrate that economy and ecology are not conflicting concepts. The structure showcases the most modern forms of energy and building technology, and has a multiplier effect – for example, by also being used as an international training centre or event venue. Audi is sending a visible signal that it treats sustainability holistically, going far beyond the electrification of fleet vehicles.
The advent of electric mobility will pose new challenges for dealers and workshops. In addition to oil changes and spark plugs, technicians must now also be able to handle issues as high-voltage technology. That’s why Audi is supporting its service partners as well as it possibly can throughout the transformation. One way it is doing this is by offering innovative training concepts.
Thanks to virtual reality training sessions, technicians can become acquainted with high-voltage batteries in a realistic and safe manner. During the sessions, they learn step by step when it is time to replace a switching unit or battery module. The advantages of providing such virtual reality training sessions are clear: Audi can offer them on a global scale, thus ensuring that its electric vehicles are efficient, fast and enjoy premium market rollouts, with technicians who are already optimally prepared for the new model as soon as it is launched on the market.
The digitalisation drive in retailing includes a wide array of forward-looking measures, such as the Audi Service Station, where customers can leave a car to be serviced or pick it up upon completion – independently of the shop's hours. And since the purchasing of used cars is also rapidly changing, Audi is continuing to develop its online platform to make buying, paying, registering and delivery even more convenient for customers.
Pursuing a sustainable approach also means promoting recycling and reusing – in keeping with the concept of the circular economy. That’s why Audi has teamed up with external partners to create a comprehensive return network. Audi constructs its cars so that they can be disassembled quickly and simply in official collection facilities at the end of their life cycle. Together with other manufacturers, Audi has developed the IDIS database (International Dismantling Information System) to optimise the overall process of dismantling by issuing specific information for professionals on how to take an environmentally-friendly approach. It includes information about draining automotive fluids, the neutralisation of airbags and seat belt tensioners, and dismantling components that contain hazardous substances, such as batteries.
Parts that contain liquids, such as radiators or oil pans are constructed so that they can be emptied in an uncomplicated and residue-free way. Furthermore, used components such as electronic parts, and assembly groups such as engines, transmissions, axles and starters are refurbished. This protects the environment, while offering customers the cost-saving alternative of exchanging a component for a recycled spare part.
Source: AUDI AG