After its diesel emissions cheating scandal last year, Volkswagen is looking to change its image, first announcing a new push for electric vehicles and now pledging to make the production of its first electric model carbon neutral.  That equates to reducing its emissions by 1 million tons of carbon dioxide a year, which is a good thing because according to GreenCarCongress.com, “the production of an electric vehicle currently generates significantly more CO2 than that of cars with a combustion engine—around 150% on average.”  Of course, EVs are still better over their life cycle since the additional carbon emissions during production are offset by the fact that there are no carbon emissions once the cars hit the road.

  • The compact electric model, called the I.D., will go into production at the end of the year and will be Volkswagen’s first model to be carbon neutral.
  • The supply chain is the first area where reductions are possible — in particular achieving major CO2 improvements in the production of battery cells.
  • In addition, Volkswagen is also looking at social standards – especially in the responsible mining of E raw materials such as lithium and cobalt used in EV battery cells and participates in the Global Battery Alliance and the Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI).

Volkswagen’s carbon commitment helps Germany’s struggling efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and mitigates against Germany’s dependence on coal-fired power and the steady growth in the number of conventional cars on its roads. The company is planning to invest $10 billion in EV development and will have twenty different EV models on the road by 2025.  “Climate change is the greatest challenge of our times,” Thomas Ulbrich, who oversees EVs at Volkswagen, said in a statement. “Truly sustainable mobility is feasible if we all want it and we all work on it.”

Why This Matters:  Cars are a huge climate change problem — one that relies on changing the actions of individuals in order to solve.  So the more companies that commit to producing EVs the better.  But better still is taking carbon out of the production of these vehicles as Volkswagen is committed to doing.  And looking at the entire life cycle of the EV, the best thing is car companies in Europe are creating a fast-charging network to offer “green” renewable power for EVs at about 400 charging locations along highways across Europe.  Zero carbon emissions from autos throughout their life cycle is on the horizon — revolutionary.

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