Carmakers Look Toward SustainabilityBy Cas Biekmann | Thu, 04/23/2020 - 13:09
With their sights set on the future, major carmakers are trying to reduce emissions and incorporate renewable energy in their factories. Although they consider intensifying investments on these fronts is necessary for a sustainable future for both the company and planet, benefits can materialize within the short-term as well.
German giant Volkswagen, for instance, has set itself the goal to reduce its global CO2 output, in support of the Paris Climate Agreement. Its branch in Mexico is ahead of the curve; due to the competitive prices of renewables in Mexico, it already operates largely on wind-farmed energy. Seventy percent of the energy in Volkswagen’s Guanajuato and Puebla plants comes from La Bufa wind farm, located in the state of Zacatecas. By using clean wind energy, the plants have reduced their emissions to approximately 215,000 tons of CO2 from 2012 to 2019, said Mauricio Kuri, Director of Communication and Governmental Relations at Volkswagen Mexico in an interview with T21. Globally, Volkswagen aims to reduce its carbon footprint to zero. Kuri said that the company aims to accomplish this by shifting the company’s car production to electric cars over time, as well as protecting and maintaining a nature reserve in Guanajuato. The government, however, has a large role in ensuring adequate policies and infrastructure toward the shift to renewables and electric car support networks, he added.
In Europe, Renewables Now reported that Truck and Bus makers Daimler and Volvo started a preliminary non-binding agreement to set up a joint venture. Its goal is to develop, produce and market hydrogen fuel cell systems for heavy-duty vehicles as soon as it starts before the end of 2020. The companies aim to speed up the introduction of fuel cells for application in the automotive sector, particularly toward long-haul vehicles. Fuel cells function like batteries but differ in that they need a continuous stream of fuel and oxygen to function. Even though they rely on fossil fuels, fuel cell systems are much cleaner than traditional power generation. In a combined statement, the companies explained that Daimler will bring all its fuel cell-related business into the JV. Volvo will acquire 50 percent of the JV by paying US$647.3 million. The companies hope to find applications for fuel cells outside of the automotive sector as well, showing that even fossil fuels can have a cleaner future.