Sales, Use and Recycling

Our philosophy of forward-thinking, environmentally minded mobility spans every stage in the value chain, but the use phase is pivotal, not just in terms of its impacts; it is also critical to success, because customers’ needs are evolving. Fuel-efficient vehicles are just one, albeit vital, component of progressive mobility with a smaller carbon footprint. This is why we are committed to offering our customers the fullest possible range of mobility services, and the reason why the Group’s Environmental Strategy also extends to the final stage of the vehicle’s life cycle: recycling.

Smart Mobility


Mobility is an essential prerequisite of a functioning society and economic growth. Our aim is to make mobility even more efficient and environmentally compatible, in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We define “smart mobility” as optimized interaction between road users, infrastructure and modes of transport. Digitization and networking are pivotal in preparing for the use of new products and services and improving traffic flows. However, smart mobility is also synonymous with improved safety and environmental protection, for example through the use of innovative assistance systems to circumvent traffic jams.

Strategic Approach

During the 2015 financial year, Volkswagen continued its long-standing systematic research into mobility issues. In order to develop appropriate, intelligent solutions, auto mobility must be treated as part of a complete system that incorporates other modes of transport, human settlement patterns, urban and infrastructure developments, new technologies and other influencing factors. Part of our strategic approach is to maintain an intensive dialog with the general public and academia.

In 2015, the challenges and possible solutions of smart mobility, especially in towns and cities, featured high on the mobility agenda for both the general public and academia in 2015. Our film “Urban Mobility 2030” helped us refine our strategic appreciation of the challenges and potential solutions of urban mobility and opened it up for debate, for example at CeBIT in Hanover in March and the Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA) in September 2015.

Since 2013, Volkswagen has been collaborating with 14 other companies from various industries on the “Sustainable Mobility 2.0” project launched by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). A sustainable approach to future urban mobility needs a credible definition of what the word “sustainable” actually means, and a way of measuring current and future solutions against this yardstick. Using scientific criteria, a catalog of – at the last count – 19 indicators has been developed and trialed in six model cities around the world. In return, each of the participating cities is given a sustainability profile, while a database of solutions also developed as part of the project reveals the most effective measures for each indicator. In the project’s third year, possible solutions were developed for the model cities to implement within the framework of their mobility planning. In this way, we are supporting many cities that are striving to establish a more sustainable mobility model.

Following on from the overarching perspective provided in our film “Urban Mobility 2030” and the WBCSD project, we are now involved in a multitude of practical projects and solutions. In most cases, networking with local surroundings and the broader infrastructure is a key consideration.

Research Projects

V-Charge, an EU research project in which we are collaborating with six international partners on the development of new technologies, offers a glimpse into the near future of automated parking. Automated searches for parking spaces are intelligently linked with battery charging solutions for electric vehicles. The idea is that a vehicle should not just look for a free parking space, but for a free parking space with built-in charging infrastructure so that it can charge its batteries inductively. Once the charging process is complete, the vehicle releases the charging spot for another e-vehicle and looks for a conventional parking space. The whole process is automatic, and makes for more efficient use of limited parking facilities.

Smart mobility also calls for a networked approach to energy and mobility systems. For electric vehicles in particular, effective connection to the grid is pivotal. The INEES project for the smart grid connection of electric vehicles, completed in 2015, is a flagship project by the German government (funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety), which showed that it is technically possible to compensate for short-term fluctuations in grid frequency and the resulting surges in demand for secondary balancing power by using a pool of regenerative electric vehicles. The project partners – the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy Systems Technology, LichtBlick SE, SMA Solar Technology AG and Volkswagen AG – devised a concept for supplying secondary balancing power, discussed it with a German transmission system operator, and demonstrated it in action in a 12-month fleet trial.

Volkswagen AG supported the INEES research project by providing 20 VW e-up! cars.
VW e-up! energy consumption in kWh/100 km: 11.7 (combined); CO2 emissions in g/km: 0 (combined); efficiency rating: A+

Reducing Traffic Noise

More and more of us live in cities. Be it the roar of a goods train, the squeal of a tram or streetcar, a sputtering moped or the constant hum of cars – traffic noise impairs our quality of life. Volkswagen is working intensively to further reduce noise emissions from individual vehicles. However, it is not just a matter of building quieter engines. Often, it is wheel noise, rather than engine noise, that offends our ears, as illustrated by a special tool developed by Volkswagen Group Research for calculating noise pollution levels in cities. Our aim is to gain a better understanding of the effects achieved by taking various vehicle and infrastructure measures, and to develop solutions for minimizing traffic noise – ideally in collaboration with urban and traffic planners.

Efficiency models 2015

Market penetration of high-efficiency models

Graphic: Market penetration of high-efficiency models

Audi e-gas fuel card and green gas production

If they wish, drivers of the Audi A3 Sportback g-tron can become almost carbon-neutral, thanks to the Audi e-gas fuel card. Audi records the quantities of gas each customer purchases with the card, and ensures that exactly the same quantity of synthetically produced, renewable Audi e-gas is fed into the German natural-gas network to compensate. The e-gas is produced by the world’s first industrial power-to-gas plant on the grid, which uses a chemical process based on wind power, CO2 and water to generate synthetic methane, effectively “storing” green electricity in the existing natural-gas network. In 2015, following a successful test sequence, the plant qualified to participate in the balancing energy market. Thus the effects of the Audi e-gas project extend well beyond the automotive industry. 

34th ŠKODA Economy Run

Věra and Jan Horníček in a ŠKODA Citigo were the winning team in the 34th ŠKODA Economy Run, after achieving an outstanding consumption average – 3 liters of fuel per 100 km, equivalent to 69.9 g CO2/km. This year, the long-established fuel economy event saw 52 teams in action. The 314.5 km route started and finished in Mladá Boleslav/Kosmonosy, with ŠKODA’s car factory in Vrchlabí as the midway point. The race was open exclusively to ŠKODA vehicles with petrol or diesel engines. 

Scania launches new hybrid truck

Mobility Services

Mobility Solutions is one of the four cornerstones of our new TOGETHER Strategy 2025. Carsharing is one of the most high-profile mobility services. Volkswagen Financial Services has been operating the Volkswagen carsharing project “Quicar” in Hanover for a number of years. By the end of 2015, a fleet of Golf BlueMotion 1.6 TDI cars was available for the 12,900 or so registered users to rent at approximately 70 stations. Volkswagen Financial Services is also involved in carsharing through its stake in Greenwheels, a company it acquired in 2013 for various reasons, including the intention to further develop the company’s business model. Looking ahead to the 2016 reporting period, it is worth mentioning that Greenwheels acquired Quicar’s carsharing business in Hanover in April 2016. Existing users are assured of a customer-friendly transition.

In future, the Group plans to invest in carsharing, robotaxis and transport-on-demand initiatives. The strategic partnership with on-demand mobility company GETT is one such initiative, aimed at expanding the Group’s Mobility Solutions portfolio. 

With the rapid expansion in Internet commerce, the number of packages being delivered in towns and cities is rising sharply, resulting in escalating traffic volumes. If deliveries fail because there is no-one to accept the delivery, this is a negative outcome for all parties involved – but also for the environment. Consequently, we aim to create synergies between passenger and goods transportation by devising new logistics concepts that avoid unnecessary journeys.

One possible solution, developed in cooperation between Audi and Group Research, is the so-called “parcel car”. In the era of networked vehicles, a car boot becomes a mobile delivery address, to which logistics service providers can gain keyless access. Thanks to this temporary access authorization, by the time the recipient leaves work, the package is already in their car boot. Audi AG is jointly testing this solution – dubbed “Audi connect easy delivery” – with DHL Paket and Amazon in Munich, and is preparing to launch it with a view to making the concept available to all Group vehicles in the future.

Up-to-date, relevant information on traffic jams and parking spaces for road users is a key requirement for intelligent behavior. By avoiding the search for parking spaces and following correct routing protocols (which, incidentally, sometimes means sitting in the traffic jam rather than trying to find cunning ways to circumvent it), it is possible to exert a significant positive influence on traffic flows. With this in mind, the Volkswagen brand has extended its Car-Net offering, which includes up-to-date traffic jam warnings and information on the number of free parking spaces available in the target area.

Mobility Management at our Sites

Finally, smart mobility also includes providing solutions for our own employees at Volkswagen locations with what we call “mobility management”. This also includes, but is not limited to, cars and parking spaces. Examples include cycling campaigns, shuttle-bus services, season tickets for public transport, the provision of ridesharing apps, and parking spaces for carpools.

Eco-Friendly Driving

Regardless of model or brand, alongside the development of ever more efficient vehicles, eco-friendly driving habits are a major factor in reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, not to mention noise and pollutant emissions. With this in mind, we support our customers by offering a range of courses:

  • In Germany, Volkswagen and NABU offer free fuel economy training in the project “Shift up – just save fuel”. Courses are held in collaboration with local NABU groups, Volkswagen dealers and a team of professional trainers from Volkswagen Driving Experience.
  • Customers can also book “Think Blue. Eco-Training.” courses directly with Volkswagen in Germany, Hong Kong and Singapore.
  • In collaboration with caremotion and Deutsche Verkehrswacht, Volkswagen Financial Services offer “ECO driving courses” for drivers of fleet vehicles.
  • Gas-saving brochures and tips in the log book etc.

Save Fuel with “Think Blue. Trainer.”

“Think Blue. Trainer.” is a driver assistance program offering vital information on current fuel consumption during the journey, as a way of encouraging eco-friendlier driving habits. It already features in the e-up! and up! models with conventional powertrains, as well as in the Polo and Passat, and will gradually be rolled out to other models as well. The range of functions offered by the “Think Blue. Trainer.” can be further extended with the “Volkswagen Car-Net Think Blue. Trainer.” app, which communicates with the vehicle and can be operated via the infotainment system. The app also contains training challenges for additional motivation. All trips are automatically stored, and can later be used for cross-comparison.

Ecolution by Scania

Ecolution by Scania is a complete package for helping transport companies reduce fuel consumption and emissions, and consequently operating costs.

Fuel Masters

Scania Fuel Masters, a new interactive competition site that Scania launched in October 2015, allows drivers to compare their most fuel-efficient journeys with each other via their mobile phones.

Product Communication

Alongside the development of ever more fuel-efficient new models, the Volkswagen Group boasts a wide range of other offerings for eco-friendly mobility. Our product communications spotlight particularly efficient vehicles and low-carbon technologies by awarding them efficiency badges, and report on the environmental progress new models have made over their predecessors by means of Life Cycle Assessments and Environmental Commendations

Ecoefficiency Service for Dealers

The Volkswagen brand is gradually embedding its “Think Blue.” strategy in other business areas in order to boost environmental sustainability. By 2020, we aim to cut CO2 emissions across our dealer network by 25% – which will also help cut operating costs. To achieve this, we set up our Ecoefficiency Service, a voluntary consulting service for 1,200 Volkswagen dealerships in the first instance. In 2015, we extended this initiative to 11,500 dealers outside Germany. The “Think Blue. Dealer.” initiative aims to provide up to 60% of our dealers worldwide with energy efficiency advice by 2018. Standout dealers are awarded the “Certified Think Blue. Dealer.” certificate.

Porsche has also launched a sustainability initiative to support dealers, aimed at improving energy efficiency among existing Porsche Centers and ensuring that new centers are organized as efficiently as possible.


In 2013, Volkswagen Financial Services, together with its partner Pon Holdings B.V., acquired a stake in Dutch carsharing company Collect Car B.V., better known as Greenwheels. Greenwheels is the leading carsharing operator in the Netherlands, with around 2,000 vehicles.

In 2014, Volkswagen New Mobility Services Investment Company China (VW NMS), a 100% subsidiary of Volkswagen Financial Services AG, established VRent, a hitherto unique corporate carsharing model for companies and their employees. This is a brand-new concept for China, offering customers uncomplicated, flexible and direct access to a comprehensive fleet of vehicles. The scheme was rolled out in 2015.

Audi Mobility Services

Audi also offers mobility services. One of these services, Audi shared fleet, gives employees access to the company car pool for their own private use. This minimizes unprofitable idle time by allowing the vehicles to be used privately whenever they are not needed on company business. The Audi select service offers customers the opportunity to drive one, two or three preferred vehicles from a premium pool of young second-hand cars with attractive specifications for a period of six or twelve months. Audi on demand is a service offered in the United States, whereby customers can order premium vehicles for direct delivery to their homes.


Recycling makes a key contribution to reducing our products’ impact on the environment and conserving resources. It is not just a matter of recycling vehicles at the end of their service life; in fact, it starts at the new-vehicle development stage, during which we pay close attention to the recyclability of the required materials, the use of high-quality recycled material and the avoidance of pollutants. At the same time, we factor in aspects of the use phase, for instance the treatment and disposal of service fluids or high-wear components.

Volkswagen is also constantly working on developing and enhancing recycling methods, processes and technologies. We have developed a multi-award-winning process, VW-SiCon, that allows end-of-life vehicles to be 85% recycled and 95% recovered. This complies with the regulatory requirements that have been in force in the EU since the beginning of the reporting period. With our partners, we are developing modern technologies for recycling components from electric vehicles in the LithoRec (lithium-ion battery recycling) and ElmoRel (electric vehicle recycling – key components in power electronics) research projects.

Audi also presented a pilot project for the reuse of traction batteries from e-tron models, which could significantly extend the useful life of lithium-ion batteries and substantially improve the environmental impact and cost-effectiveness of vehicles with electric powertrains. Giving batteries a second lease of life by using them as stationary accumulators makes an important contribution to the transition to renewable energy sources.

Last but not least, we should mention the Volkswagen Passenger Cars Genuine Exchange Parts program. Our industrial reconditioning produces high-quality exchange parts that conserve resources and offer the same quality, functionality and warranty as the corresponding new parts while being on average 40% cheaper.

MAN Truck & Bus 

MAN Truck & Bus professionally remanufactures used parts for use in vehicle repairs under the “MAN Original Teile® ecoline” brand. This helps conserve resources, save energy, and cut costs by an average of 30%. We also offer customers in most areas of Europe an extensive portfolio of replacement and spare parts.