"Resource conservation during production is a central challenge facing the automotive industry."Politician
"The waste water-free and CO2-neutral factory shows the way."Audi employee

Environmental protection
beyond statutory requirements

Intro to Environment section

Efficiency has long since become the top priority when it comes to resources and the generation and use of energy. This is the clear guideline for environmental policy at AUDI AG.

An elevated concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere leads to a warming of the Earth and thus to climate change. The primary source of CO2 besides natural processes such as the decomposition of biomass, forest fires or volcanic eruptions is energy generated and used by humans. In the Kyoto Protocol from 1997, the industrialized nations committed to reducing their emissions of the six most important greenhouse gases, including CO2, by at least five percent below the level of 1990 in the period from 2008 to 2012. At the 2012 climate summit in Doha, the achievement of this goal was pushed back to 2020. The EU nations resolved to issue compulsory specifications for saving energy beginning in 2014 that would be binding upon both governments and companies.

The stakeholders’ perspective

In 2012, we conducted a stakeholder survey asking participants to assess our environmental protection activities. The topics efficient use of materials, disposal and recycling concepts (cf. Material management), environmentally compatible logistics (cf. Logistics) and energy management (cf. CO2-neutral locations) in particular were considered to be highly relevant for Audi. The Company also considers the resource water (cf. Water management) to be particularly important.

The Audi environmental policy assesses the product life cycle

All phases in the product life cycle of our automobiles, from development and production to use of the vehicle to disposal, are considered under this aspect.

The core ideas of the Audi environmental policy are:

  • to develop ecologically efficient processes and concepts for production
  • to proactively avoid harmful effects on the environment, with a focus on the efficient use of resources and energy
  • to continuously improve the environmental compatibility of products and sites
  • to conduct an open dialogue with customers, dealers and the public
  • to sensitize all employees to environmental concerns and inform them about measures

Our environmental protection goals

The action areas climate protection, resource conservation and health protection in the context of hazardous substances have been derived from the basic principles of our environmental policy. As have been the following goals:

  • Reduction of energy consumption and thus greenhouse gas emissions
  • Efficient use of valuable raw materials
  • Reduction of water consumption
  • Reduction of waste
  • Avoidance or reduction of the use of harmful substances

Beyond the improvement of our own production standards, we also expect our suppliers to use resources responsibly and have documented this in the guide "Sustainability in Supplier Relationships" (cf. Supplier relationships).

Environmental management

Group-wide environmental management

We have implemented environmental management systems at our sites based on our environmental policy. These systems ensure that environmental aspects are considered early on in all business decisions.

All Audi Group automotive plants are, for example, certified under the European Union’s EMAS (Eco Management and Audit Scheme), which goes well beyond the minimum standards required. As far back as 1995, Audi became the first premium-segment automotive manufacturer to receive this accreditation. The Ingolstadt and Győr (Hungary) production plants followed in 1997 and 1999; the Belgian plant in Brussels and the Lamborghini location Sant’Agata Bolognese (Italy) have been entitled to bear the EMAS signet since 2002 and 2009 respectively. Furthermore, the Ingolstadt, Győr and Sant’Agata Bolognese plants are accredited under the worldwide DIN EN ISO 14001 standard. The environmental management systems for the Ingolstadt, Neckarsulm, Győr, Brussels and Sant’Agata Bolognese locations moreover meet the DIN EN ISO 50001 standard, which imposes especially rigorous conditions for continuous, systematic reductions in energy consumption.

The Volkswagen Group manufacturing locations in Bratislava (Slovakia), Martorell (Spain) and Aurangabad (India) where Audi also has production operations, as well as the FAW-Volkswagen Automotive Company, Ltd., Changchun (China) joint venture, fulfill the requirements of an environmental management system and are accredited under the worldwide DIN EN ISO 14001 standard.

AUDI HUNGARIA MOTOR Kft. won the EMAS member states prize for the seventh time in 2012, and was thus once again nominated for the EMAS Award in the "Large Organization" category. The European Commission has presented the EMAS awards to EMAS organizations exhibiting outstanding performance in environmental management since 2005 (cf. EMAS Award).

All locations publish an environmental declaration each year. This comprises the location-specific environmental program with concrete goals for the improvement of operational environmental protection as well as data and facts on environmental aspects. All environmental declarations can be downloaded from the Download section.

Environmental protection starts at the top

Overall responsibility for company environmental protection lies with the Board of Management of AUDI AG. The Member of the Board for Production is responsible for implementing the environmental policy of Audi. The Environmental Protection departments at the locations are responsible for company- and location-specific environmental protection. Furthermore, each location has an Environmental Management Officer responsible for the successful implementation of the system. The Environmental Management Officers of AUDI AG and its subsidiaries AUDI HUNGARIA MOTOR Kft., AUDI BRUSSELS S.A./N.V, Automobili Lamborghini Holding S.p.A. and DUCATI MOTOR HOLDING S.P.A. comprise the Coordinating Committee for Environmental Protection, which develops recommendations for strategic environmental protection topics. The subordinate Steering Committee for Ecology implements the orders from the Coordinating Committee.

Additional standards and regulations that go beyond the environmental management system ensure uniform international environmental standards within the Audi Group. The vehicle environmental standard, the directive on environmental protection passed by the Board of Management and the environmental and human compatibility performance specification apply for all Audi locations worldwide.

Conveying environmental expertise

A functioning environmental management system requires that employees in all parts of the company be included and informed. Employees specially trained by the Environment department regularly pass on their knowledge to their colleagues and inform them of the latest developments. Environmental topics such as heat recovery, the prevention of water pollution and emissions protection are also on the lesson plan for our apprentices (cf. Training and advancement). Furthermore, each career group undergoes a day of training dedicated to a specific environmental topic each year. To intensify the exchange of knowledge between industry and research, we collaborate with multiple universities and research institutions (cf. Research partnerships).

Audi also maintains a continuous dialogue on environmental topics with journalists, community representatives, authorities and environmental protection associations. For instance, discussions of the environment have been conducted regularly at the Neckarsulm location since 1993.

Environmental protection made visible
We monitor, observe and measure selected plants in the vicinity of our Ingolstadt site at regular intervals as part of the Biomonitoring project. The condition of individual plants and any changes in their number enable conclusions to be drawn about the quality of the environment at the site. Biomonitoring provides us with key insights into the environmental impacts of our production activity, which then flow into our planning activities. The project is Audi’s contribution in support of the "Business and Biodiversity" initiative, a corporate partnership that advocates for the protection of biological diversity.

Because our Ingolstadt site is adjacent to a residential development, noise is one of the environmental impacts of our production activity. The Operational Noise Information System (BLIS – Betriebliche Lärminformationssystem) is the basis for all noise studies there. This acoustic model is used to produce precise noise pollution projections for all of the measures carried out on the plant grounds. The data are considered early on in the planning phase for plants and construction projects and help to minimize or prevent noise pollution.

A new body paint shop is scheduled to commence operation at the Győr location in 2013. The painting process is generally the biggest polluter at an automobile plant. With the exception of the clearcoat, we only use water-based coating systems in Győr. We have installed systems that scrub not only the exhaust air from the driers used to cure the coating, but also the exhaust air from the spray booths. The dry separation of overspray in the spray booths saves water. Furthermore, the volume of circulating air to be heated can also be reduced.

was the year the first EMAS certification took place.

CO2-neutral locations

Vision of CO2-neutrality

Audi's vision is to make CO2-neutral mobility possible. This pertains not just to the use of automobiles, but to the entire production process.

We want to reduce our company-based, specific CO2 emissions, i.e. the amount of carbon dioxide released per vehicle produced, by 30 percent by 2020 against the level from 1990. The focal points for our actions are:

  • the generation of energy from renewable sources
  • the efficient use of energy, such as via trigeneration of power, heat and refrigeration
  • the reduction or avoidance of energy consumption

We have already achieved the aforementioned goal in 2012 in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm. By 2020, we therefore want to reduce emissions at these two locations by a further 40 percent against the base year 2010. We are striving to achieve a 25 percent reduction for the foreign locations in Brussels (Belgium), Győr (Hungary) and Sant'Agata Bolognese (Italy) by 2018. Our long-term goal is to make all production locations CO2-neutral.

Many measures for reaching the goal

The plant in Ingolstadt is already 70 percent CO2-neutral and sets standards on the way to energy- and resource-efficient production.

  • We have been using a trigeneration plant for the supply of heat, power and refrigeration since 1999. The trigeneration plant is particularly efficient at converting energy, resulting in extremely high efficiency. Compared with conventional technology, this enables us to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 17,200 metric tons per year.
  • In addition, we have been supplied with waste heat from the municipal waste utilization plant since 2004 and with waste heat from a nearby refinery since 2011 via a district heating connection. We draw 120,000 megawatt hours of energy from this so-called heat network each year, which corresponds to a saving of 26,000 metric tons of CO2. Our goal following another expansion is to use 200,000 megawatt hours of energy per year from waste heat. Another important measure is the use of renewable energy. The German inspection authority TÜV has certified that the Ingolstadt location has procured only renewably generated electricity from German and Austrian hydroelectric power stations since 2012. The electricity is supplied on demand, i.e. at the exact moment it is required. The use of eco-electricity reduces CO2 emissions by as much as 290,000 metric tons per year.
  • With the help of a new photovoltaic system on the assembly hall of the new A3 body shop, we generate roughly 460,000 kilowatt hours of renewable electricity, thus avoiding approximately 250 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year.
  • Energy recovery is another element of our energy concept. Rotary heat exchangers in the paint shop, for example, use up to 65 percent of the waste heat contained in the exhaust air.
  • We use our EcoTruck, a 7.5-ton, electric-powered truck, for the internal transport of materials directly to the factory halls with zero noise and zero local emissions.
  • Last but not least, saving energy is among the most efficient measures for avoiding the generation of CO2. In the press shop, for example, we require roughly 66 percent less energy thanks to switching from hydraulic to mechanical presses. In the body shop for the new Audi A3, welding tongs powered by electric motors have replaced the old, energy-intensive pneumatic ones. Modern diode lasers, the latest battery chargers and efficient logistics all save electricity.

The Ingolstadt model will be applied to all other plants. Many of the measures in place here have already been implemented at other locations, each of which already has its own development plan. Our Brussels location, for example, has also been using electricity generated with renewable water power since April 2012. The Engine Test Center in Neckarsulm was designed according to energy-related and environmental aspects and equipped with state-of-the-art air conditioning systems with integrated heat recovery. During testing of combustion engines, generators can recover up to 86 percent of the kinetic energy and convert it into electricity.

Energy recovery on the engine test rig: New electrical energy is generated during test runs.

Energy talk for employees

In March 2013, the first-ever open energy talk was held in Ingolstadt. Audi employees were able to learn about the potential for saving energy at work and how they can contribute to saving energy, and also to discuss the topic together.

New standards for green IT

Audi is pursuing green IT with its new data center – certified by TÜV Rheinland.

IT systems have become a major consumer of energy due to the energy required for cooling. The new data center we opened in November 2012 is helping us to reduce energy consumption in IT by one third, thus reducing our annual CO2 emissions by 9,000 metric tons. At ambient temperatures of up to 11 degrees Celsius, the servers can be cooled with outside air using an indirect free-cooling system. Primarily at night and in the winter, this enables us to do without energy-intensive compressors altogether. In addition, low-loss transformers enhance efficiency and flywheel accumulators, which boast a considerably longer service life than conventional batteries, can supply electricity during power outages. TÜV Rheinland has confirmed the effectiveness of the various measures and awarded our data center the Premium Certificate for the highest level of energy efficiency.

is the degree of CO2-neutrality at the Ingolstadt site.

Material management

Optimized use of resources

Many raw materials are in short supply here on Earth. Audi aspires to use resources prudently and efficiently and to avoid waste whenever possible.

We use the life cycle assessment as a tool to reduce a vehicle's environmental impact. The environmental loads depend on how a vehicle is developed, produced, used and recycled. The goal of our integrated product policy is therefore to assess the environmental impact of a vehicle over its entire life cycle. The judicious use and reuse of raw and other materials play an important role here.

Examples for the efficient use of processes and materials include:

  • innovative joining techniques in body manufacturing, such as spot welding, laser welding and bonding techniques, which reduce the consumption of operating materials and energy;
  • component manufacturing in Ingolstadt, which uses dry processing or minimal lubrication to reduce or even eliminate the use of cutting fluids;
  • the successive switch to electronic job slips in production to reduce paper consumption.
Some materials such as steel are almost completely recycled.

Recycling rather than disposal

Reconditioning powertrain components: a new lease on life for alternators and starter motors.

Another measure for the responsible use of raw and other materials is to return them to the raw material cycle. Since 2007, we have maintained a reuse quota of 95 percent per vehicle relative to total weight for the vehicles we manufacture. This includes a recyclability quota of 85 percent. Ten percent is used for power generation and only five percent is waste requiring disposal. This means that five years ago we became the world's first automobile manufacturer to fulfill the statutory requirements for the entire model lineup. Furthermore, the reconditioning of components such as starters and alternators from used vehicles at our Ingolstadt plant saved roughly 500 metric tons of steel, 48 metric tons of copper and 76 metric tons of aluminum in 2012.

One goal of our environmental management efforts is to prevent waste. We have almost succeeded in doing this at our Ingolstadt plant. More than 95 percent of the waste is recycled. Individual materials such as scrap steel are almost completely recycled. The recycling quota at the Neckarsulm, Győr and Brussels plants is 90 percent. To further improve these quotas, we are currently working on solutions to increase the recycling rate for alloys and materials used in lightweight construction.

Audi A3


Audi A3 1.4 TFSI (Model year 2012)


Fuels and auxiliary means


Other materials and



Polymer and

process polymers


Non-ferrous and

special purpose metals


Light metals



Analyze and dispose of hazardous substances

Before hazardous and harmful substances such as chemicals, oil or cutting fluids are used in Ingolstadt, Neckarsulm, Győr or Brussels, they are registered using special software. Among the things we look at are the effects the materials have on the health of our employees, the environment, occupational safety and fire protection. Only after sufficient protection for people and the environment is guaranteed are these substances released for use. Moreover, the Documentation Ordinance stipulates that all hazardous wastes must be seamlessly documented using the routing slip process. According to the revised Documentation Ordinance, this is now done electronically. The electronic documentation process increases legal certainty, simplifies administration and ensures the adequate disposal of hazardous and harmful substances.

Future electric mobility

More stringent emissions limits and finite resources will increase demand for electric vehicles in the years ahead. Lithium-ion batteries are a key technology for electric vehicles. Their recycling will become increasingly important in the future, since the share of CO2 emissions during the production of electric vehicles is substantially higher than with vehicles with combustion engines. Battery recycling therefore also harbors the greatest potential for improvement of the environmental footprint of an electric-powered automobile. Together with the Volkswagen Group, we therefore joined the LithoRec project funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU). The follow-up LithoRec II project has since started. Scheduled to run through 2015, it is looking more deeply into the results of the previous project and driving the development of recycling technology for lithium-ion traction batteries.

of the vehicle weight can be recycled.

Water management

Responsible use of water

Water is a valuable and scarce resource in many parts of the world. Audi conserves drinking water wherever possible and uses operating process water in a closed loop to reduce the volume of waste water.

The Audi Group will continue to need water for the production of its vehicles. We even have to assume that new manufacturing plants will increase our demand for water. The consumption of water and waste water disposal cost money. The prudent use of our water therefore pays off both ecologically and economically.

Separate water loops

We currently use two types of water. We only use drinking water where absolutely necessary, such as in the employees' shower facilities. For all other purposes we use process water. At the Ingolstadt location, for example, we get the process water largely from sources that are unsuitable for drinking water and from rain water. We collect rain water from 450,000 square meters of rooftops and parking lots and feed it to five Company-owned retaining pools and two storage sewers. We used 253,380 cubic meters of rain water at Ingolstadt in 2012. Used process water is purified in a water treatment plant for reuse.

The treatment of waste water significantly reduces freshwater consumption in the Company.

Membrane bioreactor for ecological water supply

To continuously improve the water conservation processes at Ingolstadt and to drive the ecological supply of water, we are planning the introduction and use of a membrane bioreactor (MBR). The water is treated in two stages here. First, bacteria clean the waste water. They break down organic substances and bind inorganic substances such as heavy metals. In a second stage, membranes prevent the bacteria from contaminating the waste water again. This ultrafiltration technology is not found in conventional waste water treatment plants. The treated waste water is of very good quality and can be reused as process water. The MBR technology will reduce the annual fresh water demand for production at the Ingolstadt location by up to 40 percent, saving 500 million liters. Waste water will be reduced by as much as 50 percent. Initial tests with the MBR have already been completed successfully; an industrial-scale unit is scheduled to begin operation in 2015.

Our vision: waste water-free production

MBR technology is just one element on the way to waste water-free production locations. Bacteria are also used to clean the dirty water at our Brussels plant. The amount of water lost in the car wash has been reduced from 150 liters per car to 30, and most of that is due to evaporation and carryout (water that is still on the vehicle at the time of exit). We also use this water treatment method in Ingolstadt and at the Audi Technical Development proving grounds in Neustadt. A positive side effect of this method is that the dirty water no longer smells, so environmental protection is also employee protection in this case. Overall there is a clear trend with respect to water consumption. In Ingolstadt, we have reduced the amount of waste water generated per vehicle from 4.9 cubic meters in 1988 to 1.9 cubic meters in 2012.

Regular waste water testing

We analyze the production waste water daily to ensure compliance with the statutory limits for pollutants. The results of these analyses show that we are well below the limits thanks to the effective treatment process. We pass waste water that may contain oil residues through so-called coalescence separators (air moisture separation units). This enables us to separate oils and benzenes, for example, from the aqueous phase for separate disposal later.

cubic meters of rain water were used at the Ingolstadt site in 2012.


Fast and resource-efficient delivery

Efficient logistics is important to a growth-oriented company for economic reasons. Audi is continuously improving processes to save energy during transport of the vehicles and warehousing.

The Audi Group delivered 1,634,312 automobiles worldwide in 2012. We use rail transport wherever this is economically reasonable and technically feasible. Group-wide, we have more than 60 percent of all vehicles transported by freight train. For models produced in Ingolstadt, this number is over 70 percent, 46 percent of which are transported by trains running on electricity generated from renewables.

Pioneer in CO2-free rail transport

In 2010, we became the first German company to use Eco Plus, the CO2-neutral rail transport by DB Schenker. For shipments on the domestic rail network with this product, Deutsche Bahn makes a separate purchase of the required amount of electricity that has been generated exclusively from renewable sources. TÜV Süd has studied and confirmed that Eco Plus is CO2-neutral, that 100 percent of the energy supplied is used for our vehicle shipments and does not come at the expense of the eco-electricity mix of other rail customers.

The CO2-neutral rail transport of finished vehicles saved 7,837 metric tons of CO2 in 2012.

These "green trains" have been operating between Ingolstadt and our port of loading in Emden since August 2010. We save 35 kilograms of CO2 with each car shipped, which enabled us to decrease emissions by 7,059 metric tons in 2012. In October 2012, we also switched the Neckarsulm-Emden line, the most heavily traveled shipping route between Neckarsulm and a port of loading, to green trains. We save even more carbon dioxide per car – 38 kilograms – on the nearly 700 kilometer line. Based on the annual number of shipments, this corresponds to a saving of 3,420 metric tons of CO2.







CO₂-reductions in

logistics (in t)

by transporting cars from
Ingolstadt to Emden, the port of
loading on the North Sea coast;
since October 2012 also from

Today most large components are also transported by rail. We use trains exclusively for the heavy traffic between the locations in Ingolstadt and Győr in Hungary, which are over 600 km apart. Over the last 15 years, the trains have covered nearly 13 million rail kilometers on this route, thus replacing some 415,000 trips by truck.

Regional partners preferred

We follow the principle of "short path logistics." More than 100 suppliers are located in the Ingolstadt region, for example. The Logistics Center (GVZ) was established at our location in 1995. Numerous suppliers fabricate their assemblies and modules in the facility with a total of 220,000 square meters of usable floor space, and deliver them just in sequence to the plant.

Judicious use of trucks

In general, we want to ship as much as possible by rail. This isn't always possible, however, such as with procurement and production logistics, which is also referred to as inbound. The suppliers frequently do not have rail connections at their locations and many components therefore have to be transported over the road. The goal is to reduce the absolute number of shipments and to make better utilization of capacities. Audi does this by pooling shipments within the Group network in regional centers and transporting them to the plants in fully-loaded trucks.

Intelligent packing assistant

We use intelligent IT systems to choose the appropriate packaging for components and make optimal use of the means of transportation. For example, we developed the Pack Assistant software in 2007 in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute for Algorithms and Scientific Computing (SCAI). We use this program to compute the optimal load density for individual parts and can load containers with up to a 20 percent greater volume than is possible with classic packing planning. The number of containers shipped each year has dropped by roughly 200 since the introduction of the Pack Assistant. We also use so-called high-cube containers, which permit higher and denser loading.

Award-winning logistics

We received the 2012 Sustainability Award in Logistics for our systematic sustainability efforts along the entire value chain. This international award presented by the Austrian and German Logistics Associations comes as particular recognition of our logistic concept's sparing use of resources, in some cases already with a CO2-neutral footprint (cf. BVL).

of vehicles produced are transported Group-wide by freight train.

Audi Stiftung für Umwelt

Audi lives environmental protection

Audi already engages in environmental protection activities that go far beyond the statutory requirements, and accepts its responsibility for the environment and society. Audi pools its activities that go beyond automobile- and company-specific environmental protection in the Audi Stiftung für Umwelt, a charitable environmental foundation established in 2009, and takes a holistic approach to implementing its strategy for environmental protection and resource conservation.

Purpose is to protect natural resources required for life

The purpose of the non-profit foundation is to promote the protection of nature and the environment as well as science and research. The primary areas supported by the foundation are the conservation of natural resources required for human, animal and plant life; promotion of scientific work that contributes to a sustainable system for humans and the environment; promotion of the development of environmentally compatible technologies; and the support of measures and activities for environmental education.

AUDI AG has endowed the foundation with five million euros. We finance supported projects from the interest earned by investing the endowment and from donations. The foundation expressly does not support workshops, conferences, image campaigns, advertising or public relations work.

International Oak Forest project

Audi Stiftung für Umwelt is examining the oak forest’s capacity as a CO2 reservoir with the aid of more than 90,000 English oaks.

The Audi Stiftung für Umwelt is in charge of providing long-term research backup for the Oak Forest CO2 Reservoir research project. Under the direction of the Chair of Forest Yield Science at the Technical University of Munich and other project partners, we want to research how trees have to be planted in order to capture the greatest possible amount of carbon and to provide the best conditions for great biological diversity. The research project was launched in 2008 with the planting of a first trial site close to Company headquarters in Ingolstadt with roughly 36,000 English oaks. Additional trial sites near the Győr, Neckarsulm and Sant'Agata (Italy) locations followed. The project's most recent trial site, not far from our Belgian plant in Brussels, was planted with 10,000 oak seedlings at the start of 2012, bringing the total number of trees planted to over 90,000. Forest yield research is a multi-generational project. Together with our project partners, we are ensuring that the sites will continue to be available long-term for the research project, which is designed to run for 100 years.

SRM Award for sustainable research

The support of young scientists is a particularly important part of our activities. We therefore present the annual SRM Award, a prize for the best graduate thesis in Sustainable Resource Management (SRM) studies at the Technical University of Munich. The presentation of this prize underscores the tremendous importance the sustainable use of resources has for our future. In 2012, the prize went to two young scientists in recognition of the results of their research concerning a sustainable human-environment system.

The first award-winning thesis is a concept for a province in Ecuador that enables indigenous tree species to be planted more frequently through the use of optimal seed management. This helps to protect and restore the rainforests in the Andes. The second award-winning paper helps with the ecological assessment of CO2 capture and storage technologies for the growing Chinese, Indian and South African markets.

Youth book for future researchers

Our foundation work also focuses on younger and the very youngest researchers. Our youth book "Abenteuer – Leben Natur Technik" (Adventure – Life Nature Technology) explains the relationships between nature and technology and how technology and the environment are related in an age-appropriate manner. Nature is important for technology, and technology can support nature. The book discusses the origins and role models for modern technologies as well as sustainable management of the Earth’s resources. It is intended to inspire nine to 12-year-olds to think and research on their own, educate them about the environment and sensitize them to environmental and technology topics.

oak seedlings were planted by Audi up to 2012.

Partnerships for the environment

Partnerships for the environment

In order to drive the transition to an economy and society oriented on sustainability, Audi is contributing its interests and ideas as well as its corporate know-how to the political and societal dialogue through a diverse series of partnerships.

Umweltpakt Bayern

Every five years since 1995, the Free State of Bavaria and representatives of Bavarian industry have concluded a voluntary agreement known as the Umweltpakt Bayern. Audi has been a party to this agreement from the very beginning. In it, we voluntary pledge to conserve resources and to use environmentally friendly technologies to achieve and guarantee environmentally compatible economic growth. Backing this is our conviction that natural resources required for life can be better protected with the help of a voluntary and reliable partnership between the state and industry than through laws and regulations alone.

The motto of what is now the fourth Environmental Pact is "Sustainable Growth with Environmental and Climate Protection." We are participating in various working forums as part of the pact. Topics include "Integrated Product Policy and Resource Efficiency" and "Management Systems." We are contributing our experience in the respective fields to both working forums so that small and mid-sized companies can also benefit from it.

Diverse partnerships

In the areas of remediation of legacy contamination and the ecological disposal of hazardous wastes, we participate in the Gesellschaft zur Altlastsanierung in Bayern mbH (GAB) and gsb Sonderabfall-Entsorgung Bayern GmbH partnerships. We are also represented in the environmental committees of the VDA (German Automobile Industry Association), and representatives of the Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm locations are on the environmental protection committees of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK).

Essay: Cars belong in the recycling bin

in the

New environmental philosophy for new business models: If we look at the car strictly in terms of reason and environmental responsibility, while at the same time looking at the automobile manufacturer’s latest sales figures, the only possible conclusion is that the two don't really go together. That’s because sensible cars are difficult to sell. Why else would cars have gotten bigger, heavier and more powerful over the last few decades? Because many buyers aren’t driven by reason alone.

They don’t just want to drive, they also want to impress; not to simply be mobile, but also to enjoy comfort and features. Imagine an automotive market in which environmental compatibility and safety were the top priorities.

What sense would it make to tease more horsepower out of the engines if it wouldn’t make the cars the least bit more attractive to the buyers? What good would be features that make the car heavier and thirstier when all the customers are interested in is the bottom line of the gas station receipt and the odometer reading when the low-fuel light comes on.

Environmental awareness is increasing in Germany, but buyers are still far removed from taking radical and consistent action on the basis of it. Cars should offer as much as possible, which now also includes a clean conscience with respect to the environment. This can be provided even by a luxury car whose incredibly high-tech engine is relatively fuel-efficient per kilogram of mass moved, yet depending on how it is driven still consumes significantly more fuel than a lightweight car with a small engine. Both cars may even sport a nameplate that conveys that eco-feeling.

It is no small feat for manufacturers to conduct responsible operations in such markets. Customers do not want to be educated, they want good service. Forgoing the business with luxury cars, for example, because they are ecologically questionable would mean leaving the field to the competition. You simply cannot expect a company to do that. What you can expect, however, is that companies recognize their hand in what happens on the market. Are they using intelligent innovation to pull out of the horsepower bragging contest and make their products lighter, so much lighter even that they can maintain the same level of performance despite a smaller engine? And are they marketing this actively even though more power is an easier sell? That would be difficult, but also a sign of responsibility and a cautious attempt to influence the buyers’ standards a bit over time.

Gently swimming against the current also includes looking for attractive alternatives to gasoline and diesel engines. Sure, the technological hurdles here are still high, and the marketability of what is technically feasible today is a nightmare. Electric cars would be wonderful if they finally offered an acceptable range or if a convenient network of quick-change batteries were available to offset the range disadvantage. But these things require a completely different business model with respect to service and model policy, for example. After all, they are less technically complex and more robust, so workshops and service centers would have to rethink things. This is once again in conflict with the good business that cars with combustion engines represent today.

But responsibility in the car business is not just difficult; it also offers opportunities. Environmental labels, for instance, are very marketable. At present, cars get an eco-label if their engine is particularly efficient and consumes fuel sparingly, weight has been reduced and the tailpipe emits no significant pollutants other than CO2. In other words, if their operation is relatively ecological. But cars are also a collection of highly desirable materials. Anyone who designs and builds them with foresight should be able to make a significant business factor out of their recycling. First, because recyclable cars may well be better received by many customers. Second, because metal, polymers, leather and textiles, cables, glass and electronics can be processed and returned to the material cycle – presuming, of course, that the manufacturers do not use any hard-to-separate composites and establish the required processes for taking vehicles back, dismantling them and marketing the materials, even if only as fuel for power plants. This is no easy matter from a business perspective, otherwise there would be no need to pen these lines. Tomorrow’s success is highly dependent on how responsibly we build cars today.

Volker Bormann

Born in 1961, Volker Borman was a long-serving editor at the Financial Times Germany.
The biologist and graduate of the Henri Nannen School had editorial responsibility for more than 1,000 special inserts.
He was one of the first to also place a focus on the relationship between operations and corporate responsibility.