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Part Four: What are vehicle manufacturers doing now to reduce their carbon footprint?


Follow this series to stay up to date with what vehicle manufacturers are doing to reduce their carbon footprint and what deadlines they have set themselves to deliver.

Suzuki

Suzuki Motor Corporation has announced a long-term vision toward tackling environmental issues, the Suzuki Environmental Vision 2050, which presents the ideal appearance of the company in 2050, as well as the Milestone 2030 toward realising their vision.

SuzukiSustanable

“Smaller, fewer, lighter, shorter, and neater”: these are the words which Suzuki has been raising since the early 1990s to express the base of manufacturing. While maximising the value offered to customers, these words are meant to make things smaller with fewer resources, with lighter weight, in shorter time and distance, and neater as much as possible. Suzuki believe that this concept also applies to the initiatives toward tackling global environmental issues including climate change, water shortage, and resource depletion.

For example, their specialised small cars, with their small and lightweight bodies, not only emit less CO2 but also minimise resources needed to produce them, and thus they have contributed in conserving resources as well. Under the Suzuki Global Environment Charter, which sets Suzuki’s philosophy and basic policy toward the environment, the Suzuki Group have made the Suzuki Environmental Plan 2020, and the Group has been working for environmental conservation, aiming to contribute to the society and become a company loved and trusted throughout the world.

As the requests for long-term initiatives toward the environment such as the climate change is increasing, and on the occasion of the company’s 100th anniversary, the Group have set the overall Suzuki Environmental Vision 2050 (to reduce CO2 emitted from new automobiles by 90% in Well-to-Wheel base compared to FY2010 by 2050) as a compass toward 2050, in order to become a sustainable company that would continue contributing to the society for the next 100 years.

To help Suzuki transition into their 2050 goals, Milestone 2030 is adopted which is to reduce CO2 emitted from new automobiles by 40% in the Well-to-Wheel operation compared to FY2010 by 2030 (Well-to-Wheel is a method considering CO2 emitted from excavating and refining fuels as well as in generating electricity, in addition to the CO2 directly emitted from the tailpipe of vehicles).

Tesla

Tesla Blog

Tesla says the very purpose of their existence is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. Tesla aims to continue to increase the proportion of renewable energy usage at their factories in an effort to minimise the carbon footprint for every mile travelled by their products and their components in their supply chain. All of the factories that they built from the ground-up, such as Gigafactory Nevada and Gigafactory Shanghai, and their forthcoming Gigafactories in Berlin and North America, are designed from the beginning to use energy from renewable sources.

While emissions from the manufacturing phase can account for a relatively minor portion of lifetime vehicle emissions when compared to the use-phase, it is still an important part of lifecycle emissions. Thus, Tesla strive to source as much renewable energy where possible for their factories in an effort to reduce their manufacturing-phase emissions.

As Tesla continue to ramp production of Tesla products, they are committed to making significant progress towards their goal of operating global Tesla manufacturing, vehicle charging, and other operations using 100% renewable energy.

Underpinning their strategy for regional manufacturing is a reduction of carbon emissions that result from shipping parts and finished products. From a sustainability standpoint, having vertically integrated Tesla factories in each region helps to reduce the carbon footprint for their operations.

A simplified factory design and localised supply chain near the factory saves time and creates efficiencies, and localised delivery saves outbound logistics costs. Tesla’s newly opened Gigafactory outside of Shanghai, China has provided them with the opportunity to set up and implement the most simplified flows based on what they have learned from the operation of their U.S. factories. The design simplification and operational efficiencies result in time and monetary savings for the Shanghai Gigafactory and less carbon emissions per vehicle produced.

Battery recycling

A common question Tesla report hearing is, “What happens to Tesla vehicle battery packs once they reach their end of life?” An important distinction between fossil fuels and lithium-ion batteries as an energy source is that while fossil fuels are extracted and used once, the materials in a lithium-ion battery are recyclable.

When petroleum is pumped out of the ground, chemically refined, and then burned, it releases harmful emissions into the atmosphere that are not recovered for reuse. Battery materials, in contrast, are refined and put into a cell, and will still remain in the cell at the end of their life, when they can be recycled to recover valuable materials for reuse over and over again.

Extending the life of a battery pack is a superior option to recycling for both environmental and business reasons. For those reasons, before decommissioning a consumer battery pack and sending it for recycling, Tesla does everything it can to extend the useful life of each battery pack.

Any battery that is no longer meeting a customer’s needs can be serviced by Tesla at one of their service centers around the world. Tesla’s current vehicle batteries are designed to outlast Tesla models. In fact Tesla estimate an average ICE vehicle in the U.S. is scrapped after 17 years of usage, by which time it will have ~200,000 miles (321,868km) on its odometer. Data from their fleet of over 1 million Tesla vehicles on the road, shows that Tesla models that have been driven between 150,000 and 200,000 miles (241,401 - 321,868km), had battery packs that were only degraded by 15% or less on average.

Mahindra

Mahindra wondered how they could help make the daily commute more sustainable, so they got into Mahindra Electric, their electric mobility business. Mahindra aspired to make energy more sustainable and became pioneers in the solar space with Mahindra Susten.

Mahindra the time for sustainability has come

Mahindra Lifespaces have also created homes that are easy on the planet, and enable residents to reduce their carbon footprint. Efforts at sustainability extend to their processes as well and are well recognised.
Carbon emission reduction

Mahindra have set a goal of becoming carbon neutral as a group by 2040. This calls for massive changes to their operational ecosystem and substantial reduction in carbon emissions. For that, Mahindra are adopting cleaner and greener processes, improving energy and resource efficiency, and increasing non-fossil fuel based renewable energy in the energy mix. Mahindra has almost reached the goal of doubling energy productivity in the automotive business; 12 years ahead of their commitment.

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