Setting Global Standards.

By 2018, the Volkswagen Group is aiming to be the world’s most environmentally compatible automaker. In order to achieve this goal, we have set ourselves some ambitious targets, particularly with regard to environmental protection. In 2014 we continued our consistent pursuit of these goals. Our Environmental Strategy embraces all of our brands and regions, and extends throughout every stage of the value chain.

Management Approach 

Climate change, resource availability and urbanization are just some of the major global challenges facing the Volkswagen Group from an environmental perspective. These challenges are reflected in growing demands from all sides, be it politicians who enforce ambitious worldwide environmental regulations, investors who expect us to anticipate and manage the risks, or customers with their growing interest in fuel-efficient vehicles.

The Volkswagen Group has a long tradition of resolute commitment to environmental protection.

The Volkswagen Group has a long tradition of resolute commitment to environmental protection. The new Environmental Strategy adopted by the Group Board of Management in 2013 provides the framework for addressing these challenges with specific targets and measures, and improving environmental protection within the Group. Implementation of the Group-wide Environmental Strategy is binding and measurable across the brands and business units at every stage of the value chain, from product planning and development, to supplier management, logistics and production, through to sales, marketing and recycling.

The Volkswagen Group has defined four overarching target areas:

  • Leader in environmentally friendly products: We firmly believe that eco-friendly products should never compromise on world-class technology, comfort and safety. One of our key goals is to cut CO2 emissions from our European new car fleet to 95 g/km by 2020, to reduce fuel consumption by between 10 and 15% in each new model compared with its predecessor, to have the lowest fuel consumption levels in every vehicle class (for the Volkswagen brand), to expand our range of alternative powertrains, to achieve top rankings, ratings and awards for selected products, and to become the market leaders in electric mobility by 2018.
  • No. 1 for lifecycle-wide resource conservation: We consider the environmental impacts of our products, particularly their CO2 emissions, at every stage of their life cycle. Along with climate protection, the main objective of this approach is to conserve finite resources. Our measures center on efficient product and process design, the use of innovative environmental technologies, and sustainable energy supplies. For this reason, we not only aim for every vehicle to better the environmental performance of its predecessor over its entire life cycle, but also target the significant reduction of our environmental footprint by 2018. Specifically, we are aiming for 25% reductions in energy and water consumption, CO2 and solvent emissions and waste for disposal per manufactured unit compared with 2010.
  • No. 1 for intelligent mobility: Intelligent mobility brings together our pursuit of mobility and comfort, environmental protection and efficient transport. We aim for high levels of customer satisfaction and want to be perceived as the most eco-friendly automaker. Our principal strategies for achieving these aims include intelligent, networked vehicles, new, supplementary business models and services, accompanied by initiatives for transport, urban planning and social change.
  • Anchored throughout the Company: We want every individual in our well-informed, qualified workforce to be actively involved. Our strength lies in combining the expertise and competence of our brands and regions. Environmental considerations are factored into every decision we make. We will motivate and qualify our employees even more intensively to meet our environmental targets.

Volkswagen Group Environmental Strategy

To firmly anchor this philosophy throughout the Group, we need the involvement of every business unit at every stage of the value chain. This holistic, modular approach entails defining our own measurable goals for each module, which will help us to achieve our corporate objective of becoming the world’s most sustainable automaker. We have set up Group-wide committee and reporting structures to manage these topics, and systematically share best practice examples in a global network.

Environmental Policy

Environmental protection in the Volkswagen Group rests on the following global principles, which are binding for all Group brands:

  • Group Environmental Policy (1995). 30
  • Group Environmental Principles Production (2007). 31
  • Group Environmental Principles Product (2008). 32
  • Mission Statement on Biodiversity (2008). 33

All those responsible at Group headquarters, within the brands and at the locations observe these environmental principles in every decision they take. The environmental policies and targets of the brands are derived from these principles. (See “Environmental Programs and Initiatives of the Brands”).

Organization of Environmental Protection within the Group

The Group Board of Management is the highest decision-making authority on environmental matters. Since 2012, it has simultaneously acted as the Group’s Sustainability Board. The Group Chief Officer for the Environment, Energy and New Business Areas, a post established in 2011, heads up the Corporate Environmental and Energy Steering Group and reports to the Sustainability Board. The Steering Group is made up of representatives from all Group divisions as well as from the Group Works Council, brands and companies, and meets four times a year. Other Group-wide committees, such as the CO2 Steering Group, the Vehicle Recycling Steering Group and the Corporate Working Group “Life Cycle Engineering”, address a range of specialist issues. The brands and companies are responsible for environmental organization at their headquarters and locations.

We want every individual in our well-informed, qualified workforce to be actively involved.

Environmental Officers at our European locations have convened regularly since 1976 to share their knowledge and experience. Regular Group Environmental Conferences were introduced in 1998 as a forum for the Group’s Environmental Officers and experts to discuss strategies, measures and projects, and draw up joint action plans.

Environmental Organization at Audi

The Board of Management has overall responsibility for operational environmental protection at Audi, while the Production Board is responsible for implementing environmental policy. The Environmental Protection unit, responsible for defining environmental protection activities in the Audi Group, reports to the Production Board. The Environmental Management Officers at AUDI AG and its locations and subsidiaries (including Lamborghini and Ducati) make up the “Coordinating Committee for Environmental Protection”, which issues recommendations on strategic environmental issues. The cross-functional Ecology Steering Committee is tasked with implementing the mandates of the Coordinating Committee, among other things.
Operational environmental protection at the locations is the responsibility of the local Environmental Protection Officers. Their brief is to maintain and continuously improve the environmental compatibility of all activities at the respective Audi locations. Consequently, the Operational Environmental Protection unit is actively involved in all environmentally relevant decisions and activities at the locations.


Building on the Group Environmental Policy and Environmental Principles, all brands organize their own environmental management systems autonomously in line with international standards, be it the European Union’s Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) or the International Standards for Environmental Management (ISO 14001) and Energy Management (ISO 50001).
As per the end of 2014, out of a total of 106 Group production sites, 90 held a valid ISO 14001 certificate (see table). Alongside the Volkswagen brand’s production locations, Audi, Lamborghini and Porsche have also had their factories’ energy management systems certified to the relatively new standard ISO 50001, and others will be following suit in the near future. Volkswagen brand production locations in Germany (passenger cars and commercial vehicles) have participated in EMAS since as long ago as 1995, and publish annual environmental statements which are validated by an environmental auditor. 34 In 1996, the Volkswagen brand became the first automaker in the world to introduce an environmental management system certified to ISO 14001, for the “development of motor vehicles with continuously improved environmental properties” in its Technical Development department. In 2009, the “integration of environmental aspects into product development for the Volkswagen brand” was likewise certified to ISO TR 14062 – another first for the industry. Both were recently recertified in 2013, and now have valid certificates until the end of 2016. 35

sites with Environmental Certification, 2014 (previous year in brackets)

Show table
EMAS ISO 14001 ISO 50001
22 (22) 90 (89) 26 (22)

Some locations apply both EMAS and ISO 14001.
A list of all certified locations can be found on the Internet. 36

Environmental management in line with international standards.

Engaging the Workforce, Living our Principles, Inspiring Others

Informing and engaging our employees is particularly important to us as a Group. We have created an intranet portal to showcase best practice examples and facilitate direct contact with the relevant colleagues. The portal also outlines basic guidelines and energy-saving tips, including some generated by the central ideas management system. A “Works Agreement on Environmental Protection” has been in place at the Volkswagen AG factories since 1995, and was most recently updated in 2013.

Environmental programs anchored within the Group brands.

Since 2010, the international umbrella brand “Think Blue.” has encapsulated the sustainability philosophy of the Volkswagen and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicle brands, which aims to balance the need for personal mobility with environmental awareness. “Think Blue.” is much more than just products and technologies. It is designed to inspire and motivate employees, customers and the general public, and cooperates with environmental organizations around the world. Since 2010, “Think Blue.” has continuously evolved throughout every stage of the value chain in all Volkswagen brand-related business units, and in 2014 was extended to car dealerships in Germany. The central components of the “Think Blue.” philosophy are:

  • Think Blue. Engineering. Since late 2012, this strategy has brought together all programs and measures aimed at continuously improving the environmental performance of new models, based on the Environmental Goals of the Technical Development department (see "Think Blue. Engineering.-Awards").
  • Think Blue. Factory. is a program launched by the Volkswagen brand in 2011, which aims to reduce consumption of energy and water, the volume of waste for disposal, solvent emissions and CO2 emissions per unit produced by 25% at all our factories worldwide by 2018 compared with 2010 levels (see "Production and Logistics“).
  • Think Blue. Dealer. is an initiative to address energy efficiency in areas other than production. By 2018, the aim is to advise up to 60% of dealers worldwide on energy efficiency-related matters (see "Sales, Use and Recycling“).
  • Think Blue. Mobility. provides information on efficient powertrains and technologies, Volkswagen-brand electric vehicles, and our wide range of electric mobility services. With well thought-through service packages such as our green electricity product “BluePower” or wallbox installation, the Volkswagen brand rigorously pursues a 360° approach to electric mobility.

Further information on “Think Blue.”: 37

Environmental Programs and Initiatives of the Brands

Audi: In 2014 the Board of Management of AUDI AG chose “ultra” as the brand’s leitmotiv for pioneering sustainability topics. As a result, “ultra” now stands for the aim of forging a close link between our core brand message “Vorsprung durch Technik” and sustainability, and is the banner under which the concrete sustainability activities are bundled. 38

Bentley: The “Bentley Environmental Factory” program has a five-year plan to reduce the environmental footprint of each vehicle by 25% by 2018. 39

Lamborghini: The Environmental Strategy aims to make the brand’s only location in Sant’Agata Bolognese (Italy) climate-neutral by the end of 2015. 40

MAN: The MAN Climate Strategy sets the target of reducing absolute CO2 emissions at its production locations by 25% by 2020 compared to a 2008 baseline. Because MAN joined the Volkswagen Group in 2012, its Climate Strategy, adopted in 2011, differs from the Volkswagen Group’s Environmental and Sustainability Strategy, which has a target date of 2018.  41

Porsche: Porsche’s environmental efforts center around efficiency, including the continuous improvement of environmental and energy management systems at its locations, as well as a commitment to making each new generation of vehicles around 20% more efficient. 42

Scania: At Scania, the concept for reducing energy consumption and CO2 emissions is called “Ecolution by Scania”. 43

SEAT: “ECOMOTIVE” is the name of SEAT’s comprehensive environmental program. ECOMOTIVE FACTORY is an umbrella term for all environmental measures associated with manufacturing processes. Among other things, the program aims to become a pioneering force for environmental protection in vehicle manufacturing by 2018, in line with the corporate objectives. 44

ŠKODA: The brand combines its environmental activities under the strategy umbrella “GreenFuture”. Its three pillars – GreenProduct, GreenFactory and GreenRetail – center on the sustainable manufacturing and marketing of increasingly eco-friendly cars. 45


Rebound Effect
Are the benefits of greater efficiency being eaten up by growth?


Cars are becoming increasingly fuel-efficient. Producing them is becoming more energy-efficient. As a rule, however, this progress doesn’t lead to an absolute drop in consumption if the companies concerned and their markets are simultaneously growing. The benefits of greater efficiency, so the argument runs, are entirely or at least partially eaten up. So how can a growth strategy be compatible with responsible management?

Volkswagen is growing fast – unit sales are up 40 percent over 2010, sales revenue has moved ahead 60 percent, while the workforce has expanded from under 400,000 to almost 600,000 employees. Over the same period we have managed to cut CO2 emissions per vehicle built by 23 percent, while in absolute terms they have increased by roughly 6 percent.
A glance at the use phase shows that, thanks to innovative engineering, our vehicles are becoming increasingly efficient, witness the drop in our EU corporate average fleet emissions to around 126 g CO2/km. Making each new model significantly more fuel-efficient than its predecessor is one of our corporate goals. Apart from which we also encourage our customers to adopt as economical a style of driving as possible – and offer free courses to help them do so, not least in conjunction with NABU.
Volkswagen’s strategy is not about growth at all costs. It’s about sustainable growth. Restricting corporate growth is alien to any competitive system. In fact it’s inherent to competition to conquer new markets by offering superior solutions, by offering innovations. We leverage innovations to make not only our products but also our production processes even more efficient.

Wolfram Thomas, Group Chief Officer for the Environment,
Energy and New Business Areas

Volkswagen aims to develop and sell the world’s most efficient cars. In this we square up to the global competition. As economic history has shown many times over, there are no innovations without growth and competition. Dispensing with growth is irreconcilable with a responsible corporate strategy that targets a balance between ecological, economic and social sustainability.