The automotive industry is committed to making Europe’s economy more resource efficient by pursuing a circular economy approach.
Manufacturers have significantly improved the resource efficiency of their production processes and products, and want to reduce their environmental impact even more in the future. Each year, Europe’s automobile sector spends €44.7 billion on innovation, making the industry the EU’s number one investor in R&D. These investments range from reducing the carbon footprint of the production phase to improving the design of motor vehicles in order to allow for their efficient repair.
Auto manufacturers are already actively contributing to resource efficiency by remanufacturing a wide variety of parts, including engines and gear-boxes. In practice, remanufactured components have proven to reduce energy consumption during manufacturing by up to 80% when compared to new parts. Giving components a new life also requires 88% less water and more than 90% less chemicals. This circular approach can reduce overall waste by an impressive 70%.
The automobile industry does not only contribute to the circular economy by remanufacturing components or reducing waste, but also by prolonging the service life of the vehicles it produces. Manufactures believe that they have a responsibility to their customers to support the longevity of vehicles by ensuring that they can be serviced, repaired and maintained. Extending the lifetime of a vehicle is essential to reducing costs for consumers, as well as conserving natural resources and energy.
Finally, manufacturers remain dedicated to further improving fuel efficiency and reducing CO2 emissions, as the use phase of a vehicle still accounts for a large part of the total environmental impact that cars have. Because of the industry’s commitment to the ‘design for sustainability’ concept, vehicles are built to be as sustainable as possible over their entire lifecycle. From prolonging the in-use phase of passenger cars and commercial vehicles to recyclability at the end of their life, the sector focusses its efforts on reducing the overall environmental impact in those areas that matter most.
Besides industry-led initiatives, automobile manufacturers also have to adhere to a wide range of existing legislation promoting sustainable production, more efficient vehicles and their proper dismantling. The End-of-Life Vehicles Directive, for example, already sets a target of 95% recyclability per vehicle per year. As a result of economic incentives, as well as existing legislation, the automotive industry has made the circular economy an integral part of its DNA.