The Four Pillars of Sustainable Mobility
Sustainable mobility is one of the many ways to support decarbonization goals. However, simply focusing on improving the vehicle’s engine limits companies from truly embracing sustainability.
“Sustainability is not a technology with which the car moves; it is a 360° execution that considers product design, production, materials, operation and what happens to the materials afterwards,” said Juan de Dios Gómez, Director General, Irizar Mexico. Present in over 15 countries, Irizar Group is composed of seven companies focused on mobility and sustainable mobility. In 2017, Irizar inaugurated its e-mobility factory, which was the first plant in the EU to be dedicated exclusively to electromobility. Irizar began operating 23 years ago in Mexico with the group’s second largest production plant, where it has manufactured over 14,700 units.
There are several ways to improve a vehicle’s sustainability, all of which with benefits and drawbacks. Gómez shares that there are four pillars to transform mobility: design, materials, design, production and operations.
In buses, sustainability often focuses on reducing emissions but it can be improved through an aerodynamic, light design and a closed lifecycle that gives the manufacturing materials an afterlife, said Gómez.
Regarding materials, an EV’s battery has a limited lifetime but what happens to them afterwards is not well documented, leading companies such as Irizar to try to extend the battery’s life cycle. “Irizar is currently working on a project with Repsol to extend the life of batteries and not cause emission problems in the environment,” says Gómez.
In ICE vehicles, the use of biofuels is also another alternative to increase sustainability. These fuels can reduce emission by up to 85 percent because they use biological waste, said Gómez.
In the future, automotive companies also hope to exploit the benefits of hydrogen to contribute to a sustainable mobility. For example, Irizar is working on a project to use hydrogen as a fuel, said Gómez.
Production changes can significantly improve sustainability through the smart use of energy at manufacturing plans. “Manufacturers can also use ecological silicone or adhesive to reduce their carbon footprint,” said Gómez.
Finally, concerning operations, Irizar has implemented tech to monitor operations and optimize the use of buses. While 99 percent of Mexico’s buses are powered by diesel, technology can predict if drivers are needlessly wasting fuel by accelerating or stopping frequently or abruptly.
On their own, these actions contribute to sustainability but a combination of different measures may allow companies to greatly step up their efforts. Moreover, the World Bank recommends that while all partners have unique expertise and perspective, companies should work together to change transport for the better. “Stakeholders can work together to shape the future of mobility, while also ensuring that all of the SDGs (sustainable development goals) move in the direction of ending poverty and building shared prosperity,” said the World Bank.