The automotive industry is on the verge of making the next quantum leap in innovation. While fuel-efficient vehicles with low CO2 emissions will remain important for the foreseeable future, it is digitization, combined with electric mobility and autonomous driving, that will transform our business – with implications that many people are not yet aware of. Over the next few years, not only will cars undergo a massive transformation as electric vehicles start to penetrate the marketplace, mobility itself will become a separate product, redefined by customers, new players and traditional automakers. As the basis for new mobility services, the Group has created two new business areas: Digitization and New Mobility Services.
Our product development process lays the foundations for maximizing the fuel economy and resource efficiency of our vehicles.
During the 2015 financial year, the Volkswagen Group’s research and development activities concentrated on expanding our product portfolio and improving the functionality, quality, safety and environmental compatibility of our products. The Volkswagen Group invested €11.9 billion in research and development in 2015, a large part of which was spent on efficiency-enhancing technologies.
Numerous patents filed
In the 2015 financial year, we filed 6,244 patent applications worldwide (compared with 6,198 the previous year) for employee inventions, more than half of them in Germany. The year-on-year increase is primarily attributable to the rising number of applications relating to driver assistance systems, conventional and alternative powertrains, and lightweight construction, once again highlighting the company’s outstanding capacity for innovation.
The Volkswagen Group’s new passenger car fleet in the EU (excluding Lamborghini and Bentley) emitted an average of 120.8 g CO2/km over the reporting period, undercutting the European limit set for 2015 (130 g CO2/km) by 9.2 g, and falling just shy of the 120 g target we had set ourselves. For the purposes of European CO2 legislation, the Lamborghini and Bentley brands each have an independent fleet, both of which likewise met their individual targets. In the USA, the fleet emissions figure is 163 g CO2/km, in China 161.5 g CO2/km and in Brazil 137.2 g CO2/km.
of the Volkswagen Group's European (EU28)1 new Passenger Car Fleet in grams per kilometer
1This figure is the volume-weighted average of all specific CO2emissions from new passenger cars registered for the first time in the respective calendar year, based on the calculation logic defined in EU Regulation (EC) 443/2009 (”NEDC test cycle“).
2Subject to official publication by the European Commission.
Powertrain and Fuel Strategy
The Volkswagen Group’s Powertrain and Fuel Strategy is paving the way for carbon-neutral, sustainable mobility in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We aim to boost powertrain efficiency with each new generation of vehicles – regardless of whether they are driven by combustion engines, hybrid drives, plug-in hybrids, all-electric powertrains or, perhaps in the near future, fuel-cell systems. All our mobility concepts are tailored to the requirements and customer needs of our respective markets. By taking this approach, we will broaden our portfolio of drive systems, aiming for increased coexistence of conventional powertrains and e-mobility systems in the future. Our current modular matrix platforms are designed so that the full range of drive systems can be deployed and flexibly fitted on production lines in all our global locations. In the future, Volkswagen will focus on massively expanding our range of electric drives. We will also be adding an electrified version of our modular matrix concept that will form the backbone of upcoming electric vehicles.
Powertrain and Fuel Strategy
We have significantly reduced the consumption of conventional fuels in our vehicles with conventional drive systems through the use of our effective TSI and TDI engines, dual-clutch transmissions, lightweight construction, and improved aerodynamics. We are expanding our traditional engine range using components that electrically assist the powertrain, and are determined to make e-mobility a new Volkswagen trademark. All-electric vehicles like the e-up! or e-Golf are already locally emission-free on short to medium journeys. By combining drive concepts in this way, Volkswagen sees an opportunity to offer customers electric vehicles that will meet nearly all their mobility needs, build trust in the new technologies, and thus help bring about the e-mobility breakthrough.
Porsche direct-shift gearbox
In conjunction with the Porsche direct-shift gearbox (DSG), based on a dual-clutch transmission, further fuel savings can be achieved in so-called sailing mode. Depending on driving style and road conditions, drivers can achieve potential savings of up to 10%. Disengaging the engine prevents drag, allowing the vehicle to utilize its kinetic energy to optimum effect and coast for longer. When the driver stops accelerating, the DSG automatically decouples the current gear and the vehicle coasts along consuming minimum fuel until the kinetic energy is no longer sufficient to maintain the required speed.
Natural gas engines play an important role in our powertrain portfolio. The chemical composition of the fuel means that CO2 emission levels are around 25 % lower than those produced by petrol. Our customers can experience this with the Caddy TGI, for example, which succeeded the Caddy EcoFuel in 2015. Thanks to its turbocharger, the smaller engine in the Caddy TGI has much the same power output as its predecessor, but delivers significantly better acceleration and saves up to 1.7 kg of gas per 100 km.
The Audi A4 g-tron, scheduled for market launch in 2016, is sporty, versatile and (optionally) completely carbon-neutral. This is another example of an Audi model that is focused on the future of sustainable mobility. After the A3 Sportback g-tron, this is the brand’s second model to run on natural gas or Audi’s climate-friendly e-gas.
Natural gas is also an economical, clean alternative for powering heavy commercial vehicles. In order to be able to use natural-gas engines in long-distance trucks and buses, however, compressed natural gas (CNG) must be replaced with liquefied natural gas (LNG), since this is the only way to achieve the required energy density and hence the desired range. The relevant infrastructure must be improved before the widespread use of natural gas as a fuel will become feasible. For example, only a few countries have well-developed networks of filling stations offering natural gas. With the new P280, Scania introduced a fourth generation of commercial vehicles powered by bioethanol, strengthening its position as the commercial vehicle manufacturer with the broadest range of vehicles running on renewable fuels. MAN also manufactures Euro-6 trucks and buses with various drive systems that can be powered by biodiesel or biomethane (sustainable natural gas).
The percentage of drivers who mainly travel short distances is growing. They include commuters and city residents, but also delivery vehicles in urban areas. The population shift towards urban areas continues unabated, and is by no means confined to the burgeoning megacities of Asia and South America. On short, local journeys, all-electric vehicles like the e-up! and e-Golf are emission-free, hence of particular interest to customers who only cover short or medium distances in their everyday driving. Private battery recharging options – such as charging stations installed on customers’ premises – must be supplemented by a good public recharging infrastructure in the medium to long term.
However, most customers want to take their vehicles on longer trips as well. Plug-in hybrids combine highly efficient combustion engines with zero-emission electric motors. By combining drive concepts in this way, Volkswagen sees an opportunity to offer customers partially electrified models in a wide variety of vehicle classes that will meet all their mobility needs, built trust in the new technologies, and thus help bring about the e-mobility breakthrough. We have offered hybrid models in a range of vehicle classes for several years. In 2015, we introduced more plug-in hybrid models in the form of the Passat GTE and Audi Q7 e-tron, so the Audi A3 e-tron has been joined by another Audi model that allows customers to drive shorter distances in all-electric mode and much longer distances in hybrid mode. The Q7 e-tron 3.0 TDI quattro has an electric range of up to 56 km. By 2025, we are aiming to launch 30 new all-electric vehicle models on the market.
Eco-friendly drivetrain technologies in the Group1
(2014 to 2015)
|Gas drives |
(natural gas and LPG)
|67,366 (0.68 %)||86,781 (0.90 %)||+ 29%|
|Globally||Hybrid drives||8,282 (0.08 %)||39,389 (0.41 %)||+ 376%|
|All-electric drives||12,393 (0.13 %)||17,076 (0.18 %)||+ 38%|
|Eco-friendly drives (total)||88,041 (0.89 %)||143,246 (1.49 %)||+ 63%|
(2014 to 2015)
|Gas drives |
(natural gas and LPG)
|40,210 (1.26 %)||34,678 (1.04 %)||-14%|
|Western Europe2||Hybrid drives||6,499 (0.20 %)||34,041 (1.02 %)||+424%|
|All-electric drives||10,253 (0.32 %)||12,987 (0.39 %)||+ 27%|
|Eco-friendly drives (total)||56,962 (1.78 %)||81,706 (2.45 %)||+ 43%|
|1 Volkswagen Group production: VW PC, Audi, ŠKODA, SEAT, VW light commercial vehicles, |
Audi light commercial vehicles excl. luxury brands
2 Western Europe: BEL, DNK, GER, FIN, FRA, GRC, GBR, IRL, ISL, ITA,
LUX, NLD, NOR, AUT, PRT, SWE, CHE, ESP, rest of W. Europe
The Volkswagen Group’s toolkit strategy achieves significant synergies by focusing on modules that can be used across multiple model series and brands. The vehicle architecture is designed in such a way that all types of drive system can be integrated flexibly and economically. This is particularly true of models based on the same platform; for example, they can use a standardized plug-in hybrid system consisting of a highly efficient turbocharged petrol engine, an electric motor, a compact six-speed dual-clutch transmission developed specifically for these applications, and a lithium-ion battery. We have incorporated the production of electrified vehicles into the manufacturing processes at our existing factories, including Wolfsburg, Emden, Bratislava, Ingolstadt and Leipzig.
The battery is the heart of an electric vehicle, and its energy content is the deciding factor in determining the vehicle’s range. For all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, we currently use lithium-ion cells that are assembled into battery systems at our Braunschweig factory. We are also researching other types of battery based on solid electrolytes, which have a higher energy density and also meet stricter safety standards. We are investigating ways of industrializing these technologies. Meanwhile, the next generation of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles will still be fitted with improved lithium-ion technology. Electric motors are manufactured at our plant in Kassel.
Starting in 2016, electrified vehicles based on our Modular Longitudinal Matrix (MLB) will be produced locally in China. Electrified vehicles based on our Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB) will follow at a later date. We are planning to localize the core components of models based on the MQB in particular, including the high-voltage battery system.
Drive diversity in the MQB
Hydrogen will still not be widely available as a fuel in the medium term. Both hydrogen filling stations and production plants for producing hydrogen as a renewable will need to be developed. Volkswagen has been working on fuel-cell technologies for over 15 years and has gained extensive experience operating test fleets. The decision as to whether to proceed to series production will depend on market requirements and infrastructure. Volkswagen is actively involved in the H2 Mobility project, the aim of which is the systematic development of an H2 infrastructure in Germany.
Thanks to our conventional and alternative technologies, as well as our modular toolkit strategy, which allows innovations to be incorporated rapidly into different vehicles, we are ideally positioned to meet the challenges of the future. We have expanded our expertise in the field of electric traction with the help of additional specialists and experts.
We currently offer some 608 model variants (engine-transmission combinations) that emit less than 130 g CO2/km, including 489 model variants that fall below the 120 g CO2/km threshold. 145 of these actually achieve emission levels below 100 g CO2/km. 87 model variants are already below the European fleet target of 95 g CO2/km due to come into force in 2021.
CO2 Emissions – Status Quo
Number of Vehicles in CO2/km
Our Commitment to Emissions Targets
We were among the first to commit to reducing the average CO2 emissions of our European new-car fleet to 95 g/km by 2020. Indeed, the Volkswagen Group was the first automaker to commit to this ambitious target, making it a forerunner in the industry.
This level of emissions corresponds to an average fuel consumption of less than 4 l/100 km (more precisely: 4.1 l/100 km gasoline, 3.6 l/100 km diesel) across all vehicle classes and segments; 87 models in the Group’s portfolio already meet the emissions target of 95 g CO2/km.
For 2015, the average emissions target set by the EU for the Volkswagen Group’s new passenger car fleet is 132 g CO2/km. In fact, we were able to meet this target ahead of schedule, as confirmed by the European Commission’s figure for 2014 of less than 120.8 g/km, published in November 2015.
Reduction In Vehicle Emissions
For light commercial vehicles (vans), the EU has set CO2 emissions targets of 175 g CO2/km for 2017 and 147 g CO2/km for 2020. But even by 2014, average new-model CO2 emissions from vehicles sold under the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles brand stood at 171 g CO2/km.
CO2 Limits for Trucks and Buses
Having already adopted CO2 legislation for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles, in May 2014 the European Commission set out its strategy for reducing CO2 emissions from trucks and buses, with the aim of reducing CO2 emissions from the entire EU commercial-vehicle fleet. Until now, CO2 emissions from commercial vehicles were not recorded, since the size, weight, application, mileage and usage conditions of trucks and buses are extremely varied. Manufacturers are currently collaborating with the EU Commission to draw up a generally accessible quantification and binding declaration of vehicle CO2 emissions using the CO2 simulation model VECTO (Vehicle Energy Consumption Calculation Tool). The aim is to further enhance transparency and increase market pressure. Before the EU agrees CO2 limits for trucks and buses, however, an impact assessment must first be carried out in order to identify the most cost-effective solution.
Given the huge diversity of vehicle models and multi-stage production processes that characterize heavy commercial vehicles, it would not be appropriate to use the one-size-fits-all approach to maximum admissible CO2 limits applied to cars and vans. Along with our competitors, we advocate a transparent quantification of CO2 emissions that looks at the vehicle as a whole, i.e. including trailers and bodywork, and not just at the engine or tractor unit. This transparency should intensify the competition to build the most fuel-efficient, hence carbon-efficient, commercial vehicles, resulting in lower CO2 emissions. Europe’s commercial-vehicle industry supports the aim of reducing CO2 emissions and improving road safety.
However, new vehicles are not solely responsible for CO2 emissions; important roles are also played by tires with reduced rolling resistance, by the aerodynamic trim of trailers, and by driving behavior, as well as alternative fuels, transport infrastructure and traffic conditions. In view of this, there is a joint obligation on automakers, but also on policy-makers, automotive suppliers, petroleum companies and logistics companies to take concerted action to minimize CO2 emissions in the European transport sector.
Possible solutions could include long trucks; according to scientific studies by the Federal Highway Research Institute (BASt), they could cut CO2 emissions by up to 25% and are currently participating in field trials on German roads. This would make tackling CO2 emissions the joint responsibility of manufacturers, haulage companies and policy-makers. The state would be responsible for developing appropriate infrastructure, the haulage companies for a more intelligent management of logistics processes. As manufacturers, our responsibility would include investing in the development of more fuel-efficient vehicles and alternative powertrains.
NEDC Test Cycle Comes in for Criticism
The New European Driving Cycle (NEDC), the procedure used in the EU to measure passenger-car fuel consumption, has come in for repeated criticism from environmental organizations. Critics claim that the CO2 emissions measured in the NEDC’s 20-minute laboratory-based test cycle are much lower than the emission levels generated in today’s actual, on-the-road driving conditions. Like all other vehicle manufacturers, however, we must comply with this legally mandated test cycle. The European Union is planning to introduce the new “World Light Vehicles Test Procedure” (WLTP) in September 2017, which is intended to produce more realistic consumption figures. Like the NEDC, the WLTP aims to provide an objective benchmark for comparing technical products. The run-up to the WLTP’s scheduled introduction should be used to define a transparent and sustainably robust conversion procedure for CO2 targets, because the current EU target for 2020 – to reduce emission levels to 95 g CO2/km was derived from figures calculated by the NEDC process.
Life Cycle Engineering
A comprehensive environmental assessment entails more than just an analysis of fuel consumption; it must consider all the environmental impacts of a vehicle over its full life cycle, from the manufacturing process – including resource extraction, production of materials, supplier processes and our own in-house production at all locations – through the use phase – including driving emissions, fuel preparation and supply – through to the ultimate recycling of the vehicle at the end of its life cycle.
Improving each vehicle’s environmental performance over its full life cycle is one of our Technical Development department’s most firmly anchored environmental objectives. In order to meet this goal, we prepare detailed life cycle assessments (LCA) of new vehicles, powertrains, components and materials, so as to identify those areas where improvements will have the biggest effect. We then develop innovations targeting precisely these hotspots. This process is known as Life Cycle Engineering. An eponymous working group is tasked with ensuring the uniform Group-wide implementation of Life Cycle Engineering. One of the outcomes of the working group’s activities was the creation of the in-house software package LEAD (Life Cycle Environmental Assessment Database), a server-based system for the Group-wide sharing of harmonized data that guarantees the use of standardized routines for calculating environmental footprints.
Alongside these in-house considerations, Life Cycle Engineering also embraces our suppliers’ activities. In 2015, Volkswagen joined the CDP Supply Chain Program, which supplies us with key information on CO2-intensive processes and components upstream in the value chain. Increasingly, we hold supplier workshops in which we work together to identify innovative approaches to the environmental optimization of processes and components.
We report on Life Cycle Engineering successes to our customers, shareholders and other stakeholders by issuing what we call Environmental Commendations. Based on an environmental impact assessment complying with ISO standards 14040 and 14044, Environmental Commendations describe the environmental improvements in our latest models compared with their predecessors. The Volkswagen Passenger Cars and Commercial Vehicles brands both publish Environmental Commendations. So does the Audi brand, under the heading Environmental Footprint.
Alongside LCAs, we also use other life-cycle approaches. In 2015, we worked closely with the Technical University of Berlin (Technische Universität Berlin) to further develop our methods for calculating what is known as the “water footprint”. Based on a vehicle’s environmental footprint, we calculate and analyze the amount of water consumed by a vehicle over its entire life cycle. This enables us to take specific actions to reduce water consumption.
Compared with purely environmental Life Cycle Engineering, our analysis of the efficiency of our resource utilization takes the whole process one step further. Measures to improve a product’s environmental performance over its life cycle are also assessed in commercial terms, so that we can identify which approaches achieve the greatest environmental improvements in relation to the amount invested.
Group Research is involved in two long-term projects examining what the resource-efficient factory and the resource-efficient vehicle of the future will look like. New technologies such as electric and fuel-cell vehicles play a key role here, especially in terms of their resource requirements as well as new closed-loop recycling concepts.
“Proactive resource efficiency”: Use of recycled materials (eco-friendly materials)
Minimizing our consumption of primary raw materials is a pivotal concern for Volkswagen. With this in mind, we explicitly insist on the use of quality-assured recycled materials in almost all vehicle components.
Recycled materials – also referred to as secondary raw materials – are materials manufactured from production residues or end-of-life materials. They must meet the same high Volkswagen quality standards as primary raw materials; this we ensure by subjecting them to regular inspections. Only the highest quality materials are used in order to guarantee the safety, reliability and longevity of our products and satisfy our customers’ extremely high expectations.
To calculate the proportion of recycled materials in an entire vehicle, we identify the materials in all its components and their recycled material content, and add them up. In order to do this, we depend on reliable information obtained directly from our suppliers, as well as data from industry-specific associations, since a single vehicle model may include around 5,000 components containing more than 10,000 material items.
As well as dramatically improving a vehicle’s environmental footprint, the use of recycled and renewable materials can also make good economic sense. New Volkswagen branded vehicles already have a high proportion of recycled and renewable content, accounting for approximately one-third of the weight of five models (Polo 5, Sharan, Golf 6, Golf 7, Passat 8) for which precise figures have been calculated.
Wherever possible, the Group’s brands use renewable raw materials. For example, natural fibers like flax, cotton, wood, cellulose and hemp are used in floor insulation, boot linings, door and side panel trim and hood insulation. The Golf Sportsvan, for instance, features an armrest containing kenaf and flax fibers, while paper fibers are used in the cargo floor and roof reinforcement structure, and cotton fibers in the floor insulation.
Input materials and primary products as illustrated by the example of theVW Golf
Lightweight body shell production remains a strategic development priority. Volkswagen uses hot-formed, high-strength steels in production models. We are also pursuing a composite materials approach for specific vehicles and platforms, using a range of different materials in one body shell. Lightweight materials such as aluminium are also used in the development of new platforms.
Audi is committed to the use of lightweight construction to improve the dynamics of its models while at the same time reducing fuel consumption. The Audi Q7 body is largely made of aluminium. Thanks to the Audi Space Frame construction, the vehicle body only weighs a little more than 200 kg – 71 kg less than its predecessor. The weight of the vehicle as a whole has been reduced by as much as 325 kg.
Lightweight construction and a high level of rigidity are also defining characteristics of the body shell of the Audi R8 Coupé. Along with various aluminium components, the supercar’s high-strength, almost torsion-free backbone consists of a rear panel, center tunnel and three-part B-pillars that are all made of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP).
Similarly, lightweight construction plays a key role in the successful new Audi A4, which entered production in 2015. Depending on the model variant, an intelligent choice of materials and more extensive use of lightweight construction techniques make the new Audi A4 a full 65 kg lighter than its predecessor. The car produces 6 t fewer greenhouse gas emissions (equivalent to CO2) over its entire life cycle than its predecessor, thanks to the use of eco-friendly production methods, reduced weight, and a wide range of efficiency enhancements such as outstanding aerodynamics (the 1.4 TFSI ultra has a drag coefficient of just 0.23). This translates into a 16% improvement. In this way, we have succeeded in reducing emissions even at the production stage, despite the use of lightweight construction materials. While the earlier model generated around 7.16 t of greenhouse gases in the production phase, the new Audi A4’s production process has reduced this by around 4% to 6.85 t.
The proportion of hot-formed metals in the latest Passat has been increased by more than 75% compared with its predecessor. New additions include crossmembers at the front and rear of the car and in the transmission tunnel. While this means more energy is consumed in the production process, the reduced fuel consumption resulting from component weight savings has a dramatic impact on CO2 emissions and energy consumption over the vehicle’s full life cycle.
In 2015, Porsche presented a concept car based on a lightweight design with optimum weight distribution and a low center of gravity: the Concept Study Mission E. The body consists of a functional mixture of aluminium, steel and CFRP, the bonnet and wheels of carbon fiber.
We are also researching economical lightweight construction technologies for series production as part of the Open Hybrid LabFactory public-private partnership, a joint venture with the Lower Saxony Research Center for Vehicle Technology (NFF) at the Technical University of Braunschweig, the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft and various other industry partners.
The Volkswagen Group’s models received numerous awards in 2015, especially for alternative drive systems. Here are some examples:
- AUTO TEST, the monthly consumer advice edition of AUTO BILD, and ÖKOTREND, the independent environmental research institution, presented awards for the most environmentally friendly cars in all classes in 2015. Two Volkswagen Passenger Cars models won in their categories: the eco-up! in the small car category and the Golf GTE in the compact class. The Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid was voted number one in the SUV category. Assessment criteria included the manufacturer’s commitment to environment protection and social responsibility, and the environmental impact of the vehicles over their entire life cycle.
- In 2015, and also in the latest assessment in early 2016, so for the fourth time in succession, the Swiss Transport Club (Verkehrs-Club der Schweiz) awarded three Volkswagen Group models with natural gas-powered engines top ranking in its list of ecofriendly cars. The Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand’s eco-up! and its almost identically constructed counterparts from SEAT and ŠKODA beat all competitors thanks to their moderate noise emissions and excellent climate protection statistics.
- In the ADAC EcoTest, three of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand’s natural-gas vehicles – the Golf TGI BlueMotion and eco-up!, plus the all-electric e-up! – came away with top ratings. The overall result of the ADAC EcoTest is based on a range of metrics, including tests of emissions of e.g. carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides and particles in realistic driving cycles – some with the air-conditioning system turned on.
- In the specialist journal Car & Driver’s “Ten Best 2016” competition, 231 models currently available on the Brazilian market were assessed – and the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand received the highest number of awards. The specialist jury selected the move up! TSI as the “most sustainable model” thanks to its new TSI Total Flex 1.0-liter engine, and the speed up! TSI as the “best hatchback”. The TSI Total Flex is Volkswagen do Brasil’s latest engine.
- The Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand’s Lamando and the ŠKODA Octavia were awarded gold medals in the China Eco-Car Assessment Program (C-ECAP). In early 2016, the VW Golf TSI was the first vehicle to be awarded the platinum medal. The test systematically and comprehensively assesses a vehicle’s environmental attributes – including characteristics such as interior air quality, noise, and potentially harmful substances and materials.
- The e-up! was the winner of the electricity consumption category in the environmentally friendly car list published by German environmental NGO Verkehrsclub Deutschland e.V. (VCD). VCD assesses more than 400 current passenger car models and aims to give car buyers a scientifically based decision-making tool.
As a result of the diesel emissions issue, US specialist magazine “Green Car Journal” revoked the Green Car of the Year awards bestowed on the Volkswagen Jetta TDI and Audi A3 TDI models in 2009 and 2010 respectively.