Production and Logistics

By 2018, the Volkswagen Group is aiming to have cut its specific energy and water consumption, CO2 emissions, solvent emissions (VOC) and volume of waste per vehicle manufactured by 25%, compared with the 2010 baseline. This goal applies across all the Group’s production locations, and builds on the general production process requirements defined in the Group Environmental Principles.
In terms of environmental impact reduction per unit of production, by the end of 2014 we were already more than half-way to our goal for 2018, having cut production-related environmental impacts by 19.3% (2013: 12.5%) compared with 2010 levels. This breaks down as follows (2013 figures in brackets):

  • Specific energy consumption: – 18,5 % (– 12,5 %)
  • Specific CO2 emissions: – 23,2 % (– 19,5 %)
  • Specific water consumption: – 6,9 % (– 4,6 %)
  • Specific VOC emissions: – 26,1 % (– 12,3 %)
  • Specific waste for disposal: – 21,7 % (– 13,8 %)

Green Production

To meet the Group targets for 2018, each brand has developed its own sustainable manufacturing program (See “Environmental Programs and Initiatives of the Brands”). Volkswagen’s program, which is known as “Think Blue. Factory.”, was launched in 2012. 49
Worldwide, 27 production locations belonging to the Volkswagen brand are taking part in “Think Blue. Factory.”. Between the program’s launch and the end of 2014, more than 2,700 out of a total of more than 5,000 planned projects had already been successfully implemented. Bearing in mind that “Think Blue. Factory.” can only succeed with the support and engagement of the employees, since 2013 specially trained environmental specialists have been acting as “ambassadors” at all participating locations. Worldwide, more than 1,000 ambassadors are now operating as front-line contacts and multipliers for the employees at these locations. The program has the full support of the Group Works Council, which has already organized its own training on the topic for approximately 250 council members. The program has so far won 30 awards. In 2014 these accolades included a National Energy Globe award from the Energy Globe Foundation (Austria) and the World Environment Center’s Gold Medal for International Corporate Achievement in Sustainable Development (USA).

Carbon Trust Standards

Bentley is the first British carmaker to achieve certification to all three “Carbon Trust” standards. This triple accolade reflected the significant reductions achieved by Bentley in CO2 emissions, water use and waste output at its headquarters in Crewe (United Kingdom).

Use of Resources in Production

The body accounts for approximately 40% of total vehicle mass, which is why lightweight body design is an important research and development focus at Volkswagen. Lightweighting techniques include functional integration – which involves integrating several different functions into one component – and use of low-density materials. At the same time however, cost factors and a wide range of environmental considerations must also be taken into account. Consequently, the Volkswagen Group brands always take an integrated approach to lightweight engineering, looking at the whole life cycle of the product, from manufacturing through to recycling.
One example here is the question of whether to build bodies from aluminum or steel. Aluminum reduces the weight of the vehicle, which can significantly reduce CO2 emissions during the use phase. However, production of aluminum is considerably more energy-intensive than production of steel, leading to higher CO2 emissions at the manufacturing stage. This initial environmental disadvantage is offset only after many miles of driving. Aluminum also has the disadvantage of being considerably more expensive than steel, resulting in a significant increase in vehicle purchase price. This is why small and mid-range car bodies still tend to be made predominantly of steel.
That said, it is perfectly possible to build a lightweight vehicle using steel. Use of high-tensile and ultra-high-tensile steels allows component gauges to be reduced, bringing a reduction in total body weight – with no reduction in crash performance. Another principle of efficient steel-based lightweight design is the use of varying grades of steel – that is to say the right grades of steel are used at the right points in the body to meet local stiffness requirements.

Plastic Alternatives

In 2014 Audi demonstrated that vehicle springs, too, offer significant scope for weight savings. Audi and an Italian supplier have developed glass fiber-reinforced plastic (GFRP) springs that are 40% lighter than comparable steel springs for vehicles in the upper mid-range segment, weighing just 1.6 kg. A set of four GFRP springs brings a total weight saving of 4.4 kg. And since this saving is partly made up of a reduction in unsprung weight, it also results in improved suspension response and ride comfort. The GFRP springs are also corrosion-proof and the manufacturing process consumes a lot less energy than production of steel springs.

As well as improving the environmental footprint of vehicles in which they are used, recycled and renewable materials can also make good economic sense. New models of the Volkswagen brand already have a high recycled and renewable content. Calculations carried out for five models (Polo 5, Sharan NF, Golf 6, Golf 7, Passat 8) show that such content makes up approximately one-third of their weight. 50

The bodywork accounts for approximately 40% of total vehicle mass.

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 example, 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. 51


Energy Consumption and CO2 Emissions

In the reporting period, specific energy consumption per vehicle produced showed a continuous fall. As production volumes increased, however, total energy consumption rose, although less rapidly than in the previous year (see "Energy Consumption“). We now meet approximately one-third of our global electricity requirements from renewables. Between 2012 and 2020, the Volkswagen Group will invest some €600 million in continued expansion of renewable energies such as wind, hydroelectric power, solar power and biomass. Investments in 2014 reached approximately €23 million. On top of this, we have so far invested some €15 million in fuel conversion measures at our CHP plant in Braunschweig and some €65 million in the combined gas and steam plant in Kassel. By 2014, more than 25 solar photovoltaic systems were up and running at our locations, with a total generating capacity of approximately 60 MW. This is equivalent to the electricity consumption of approximately 20,000 private households. A number of brands have also set their own ambitious targets. Lamborghini for example is looking to make its production processes carbon-neutral by 2015. The 17,000 square-meter photovoltaic system on the roof of the central production shop at the Sant’Agata location is an important milestone en route to this goal.

Volkswagen Chattanooga Solar Park is the largest solar power plant operated by an automaker in the USA.

Late in 2013, SEAT brought the auto industry’s largest roof-mounted photovoltaic plant “SEAT al Sol” on stream in Martorell (Spain).

We now meet approximately one-third of our global electricity requirements from renewables.

Large photovoltaic systems have also been installed at the Emden (Germany), Crewe (United Kingdom), Martorell (Spain) and Chattanooga (USA) locations – and further installations are in the pipeline across the Group. In early 2014, a second photovoltaic system went into operation at the Volkswagen Braunschweig location. Covering an area of 3,000 square meters, it has an annual capacity of 363 MWh, and is capable of reducing CO2 emissions by up to 281 t. In 2014, a photovoltaic system also went into operation at the Volkswagen Zwickau location. It has an area of 900 square meters, can generate 90 MWh of electricity annually for use on the final vehicle assembly lines, and can reduce annual CO2 emissions by up to 80 t.
In November 2014, drilling began for a geothermal heat plant close to the Audi factory in Gyo˝r (Hungary). When this plant goes into operation – probably in late 2015 – it will supply at least 82,000 MWh of geothermal energy annually, meeting approximately 60% of the plant’s total heat requirements, and reducing Audi’s CO2 emissions by a further 23,000 t.
With the expansion of its Leipzig location, Porsche has incorporated features that will reduce CO2 emissions by 11,637 t. annually compared with a conventional design. The biggest savings will come from the use of waste heat from the nearby woodchip-fired heating plant, which will provide almost 80% carbon-neutral heating at the location and result in cost savings of approximately €360,000 per annum. A further important contributor is a rooftop photovoltaic plant installed on the body shop. In 2014, when operating well below full capacity, this system delivered CO2 savings of 115 t. In the future, under optimal solar conditions, it will offer Porsche potential annual savings of at least 1,000 t of CO2. MAN, meanwhile, reduced CO2 emissions at its production locations by approximately 105,400 t in 2014, bringing the total improvement over 2008 levels to 19% – a five percentage point improvement over 2013. A wide range of measures were responsible for this result, including more efficient production technologies, optimized heating and ventilation systems and use of renewable energy, for example with the installation of a photovoltaic system at the Pinetown location in South Africa.
In 2014, more than 1,500 process-optimization measures in the energy and environment sectors were filed across the Group on the intranet-based Volkswagen Group IT tool “Massnahmen@web”. These led to CO2 savings of 195,000 t, annual energy savings of 505 GWh, and cost savings of over €30 million.

Employees Suggest Ways to Save

We’re all familiar with the topic from our homes – a substantial proportion of the energy we consume is accounted for by equipment that isn’t being used and is merely in standby mode. The solution here is to rigorously switch off what is not in use. At the factory, however, the complex interdependency of various items of equipment means that switching off can be more complicated than it might seem at first glance. To indicate clearly which items of equipment can be shut down when, employees at the Kassel and Emden locations came up with the idea of using energy efficiency labels like the ones on domestic appliances and invented their own system along these lines. Now, employees on the shop floor can see at a glance what they can save by switching off their machines. If there are operational reasons for not switching off, the label shows a bright red “NO” and describes which items must not be shut down under any circumstances. In just one department of the Kassel location, systematically switching off all the equipment during production-free periods cut CO2 emissions by 120 t. The potential offered by reducing the baseload was already brought to the attention of management and employees back in 2011 by annual competitions between the locations and production sectors at the Volkswagen and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicle brands. At the same time a process standard was drawn up along with a manual providing recommendations and measures, with the result that all production locations at these brands regularly conduct baseload monitoring exercises and report on their findings.

The participation of the Group brands in joint research projects with external partners is a further important source of inspiration and new ideas for energy savings. One example is Volkswagen and Audi’s participation in the German research alliance “Innovation Alliance Green Carbody Technologies” (InnoCaT). In a recent InnoCaT research project, Siemens, Volkswagen and a Fraunhofer Institute studied the movement sequences of production robots and developed a simulation model to work out the most energy-efficient trajectories. Smoother trajectories result in a significant reduction in energy consumption, with tests showing that this approach can cut energy consumption by almost one-half. The goal is to develop software that can be used to reprogram existing robots for more energy-efficient operation, without making changes to the production process.

Green IT

Reducing the electricity consumption of IT components has been a strategic objective of the Volkswagen Group for many years. During the last RFQ process for PCs, in early 2014, common Group-wide specifications were drawn up for energy-efficient PC workstation hardware. For example, it was decided to exclusively use energy-efficient TFT monitors with LED backlighting. Only energy-efficient desktop PCs and laptops are now eligible for the Group’s central IT purchasing basket. All Group companies across the globe can order this hardware via a special B2B portal. By the end of 2014, 150 companies in 35 countries were already using the central IT purchasing basket. Across the Group, savings in electricity consumption in 2014 from the introduction of new energy-efficient, eco-friendly equipment purchased from the central IT basket amounted to approximately 47,000 megawatt-hours (MWh). The savings work out at a reduction in annual electricity consumption per individual PC workstation from 206 to around 60 kilowatt-hours (kWh). In 2014 SEAT, a participant in the EuroEnergest project, an energy efficiency project supported by the European Commission, demonstrated how intelligent IT systems optimize energy consumption, maximize use of renewable energy and deliver 10% energy savings.

Emissions Trading

The procedure for the allocation of CO2 emissions certificates under the European Union’s Emissions Trading System changed fundamentally in 2013, at the start of the third trading period (2013 – 2020). For electricity companies, full auctioning has been introduced. For the manufacturing industry and certain types of power plant (e.g. CHP plants), some certificates are still allocated free of charge. However, the number of free certificates will fall steadily throughout the trading period. Any certificates required on top of the free allocation will have to be either purchased at auction or covered by credits for emissions reduction projects under the Joint Implementation scheme and Clean Development Mechanism. 30 Volkswagen Group locations are included in the European Emissions Trading System. For 2014, the Group received a free allocation of 1,090,262 emissions certificates (169,925 less than the previous year). As well as the European Union, various other countries in which Volkswagen Group production locations are based are planning to introduce emissions trading. China for example has already launched seven pilot emissions trading schemes, in which the Volkswagen Group is not involved at the present time. Going forward, the Chinese government plans to expand these pilot projects into a national emissions trading system.

Awards for Sustainable Buildings

With the internally awarded “Blue Building” certification we aim to promote the construction of energy-efficient and sustainable buildings within the Volkswagen Group. These buildings must significantly surpass the requirements of energy efficiency legislation. Under the scheme, buildings that score highly on a number of supplementary criteria – employee-friendly design, cost-efficient operation and environmentally friendly planning and construction – win the additional designation “Plus”. At the present time, a variety of commercial and residential buildings currently under construction are being optimized in line with the “Blue Building” standards. The most outstanding example is a new office complex that will surpass statutory energy efficiency requirements by more than 35%.

In November 2014, the Volkswagen engine factory in Chemnitz received an external award for sustainable building design – the Gold Certificate of the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB). The jury was particularly impressed by the way that expansion at the location had been integrated in a balanced way with the surrounding environment, and by the use of resource-efficient production equipment.

Volkswagen location in Pamplona (Spain): Despite a sharp increase in production, it was able to cut its absolute water consumption by half between 2001 and 2014.

Water Consumption

Despite the increase in the number of production locations within the Group, water consumption per vehicle manufactured was reduced in 2014 (see "Freshwater and Wastewater“). We are well aware that in many parts of the world water is a very valuable resource, and that managing this resource is an increasingly challenging task. That is why we adopted water as our focus topic for 2014. With our pioneering water footprint analysis in 2013, calculated on the basis of extensive LCA data, we identified those processes that consume most water over the life cycle of a representative selection of Volkswagen brand models. The water footprint calculation showed that as far as water is concerned, the use phase plays only a minor role. A large proportion of water consumption is attributable to the production process. Of this, most is accounted for by upstream supply chain operations. Nevertheless, a review in 2014 underlined the importance for the Volkswagen Group of cutting water consumption. This is because 58% of our entire freshwater consumption – approximately 24 million cubic meters – is attributable to locations situated in regions where groundwater resources are at risk – above all Mexico, Spain, South Africa, India and China.
In our environmental management strategy we always take into account the fact that water resource availability varies greatly from region to region, and that solutions must be adapted accordingly. The same philosophy also underlies the water management strategy adopted by the Corporate Environment and Energy Steering Group in 2014, where four action areas were defined:

  • Safe and reliable water supply and sewerage. We aim to protect groundwater reserves against pollution, and to avoid production downtimes caused by water shortages.
  • Efficient water use throughout the life cycle. By using water as economically and efficiently as possible during the production process, and by recycling as much water as possible, we aim to reduce total water consumption to the great possible extent.
  • Social and environmental initiatives. Particularly through our biodiversity projects, we help to protect water resources and to promote public environmental awareness.
  • Transparency. We communicate our goals and activities to the public. In 2013 Volkswagen became the world’s first automaker to commit to the United Nations CEO Water Mandate. Also, since 2011, we have been providing extensive disclosure of our water management practices and progress, by completing the very detailed CDP water management questionnaire.

These four priorities were reflected in the water conservation measures that we pursued during the reporting period. In 2012, the paintshop at Volkswagen’s Chengdu location (China) became the first paintshop in Asia to use “EcoDry Scrubber” technology, which reduces water consumption on the painting line by up to 23% compared with solvent-based processes. And at the Foshan location, also in China, we are aiming to go one step further and achieve 100% wastewater recycling by 2015. A wide range of treatment and recycling measures at the Bentley location in Crewe (United Kingdom) resulted in a 57% reduction in water use pervehicle manufactured between 2010 and 2014. The Volkswagen location in Pamplona (Spain) has been very successful over the years. Despite a sharp increase in production, it was able to cut its absolute water consumption by half between 2001 and 2014. At the Curitiba location in Brazil, one simple measure introduced in 2014 has had a big effect on water use: the water used during regular testing of the firefighting system is now drained off into a rainwater retention basin and recycled as cooling water. In this way, annual freshwater consumption has been reduced by approximately 18,000 m3.

We always take the fact into account that water resource availability varies greatly from region to region.

Solvent Emissions

During the reporting period, the increase in vehicle output and the related rise in the volume of painting work led to a slight increase in absolute solvent emissions (VOC) (see "VOC emissions“). Reducing VOC emissions from manufacturing is therefore a key focus for 2015 in Volkswagen’s “Think Blue. Factory.” sustainable manufacturing program. To identify further scope for savings, a pilot workshop was held in Hanover in mid-October 2014 which brought together experts from the central environment functions, from “Think Blue. Factory.” and from the planning sectors. Also present were paintshop, environmental protection, factory planning, brand planning and process engineering specialists. Like for the environmental indicators “waste for disposal” and “water consumption”, a package of tools and suggested measures was drawn up, which was then passed on to all locations for implementation.
A further focus is on reducing energy consumption and CO2 emissions. It should be noted that the number of employees capable of influencing this indicator, through their ideas and their personal behavior, is far greater than for VOC emissions.

Waste Output

Owing to the rise in production output in the reporting period, the volumes of hazardous and non-hazardous waste also increased. The proportions of waste for disposal in these volumes were reduced in 2014, while the recycling ratio increased (see "Waste“).
A waste strategy in force across the Group helps all locations to reduce and avoid waste. Optimal systems are in place for the recycling of production waste, packaging materials and waste from workshops and the Technical Development department. For recyclable production waste that can be sold on the market, a system has been rolled out across the Group that helps to improve the efficiency of the entire process. The focus is not only on revenue generation but also on optimized preparation of the waste for efficient transportation. 52
In 2014, Scania adopted waste as a focus topic. The target is improved recycling ratios and reduced consumption of materials. There are also plans to cooperate more closely with waste disposal contractors. Bentley already achieved its “zero to landfill” target in 2013, having cut waste per vehicle by 85% between 2000 and 2013. Recycling facilities are available across the factory.
Waste reduction is an important focus at our Chinese locations too. In April 2014, we launched a waste project at the Anting and Foshan locations, together with our joint venture partners. In cooperation with employees and our partners, we are developing systems that will improve recycling ratios through improved sorting, storage and handling of waste at the factory itself, and through optimized recycling technologies at the waste disposal companies. The aim is to increase the recycling ratio to 80%.

Green Logistics

For our incoming deliveries of raw materials and supplies, for inter-location shipments and for shipments of vehicles leaving our locations, we utilize all modes of transport. The aim is to make logistics processes as environmentally compatible and efficient as possible and to shift an increasing share of total transportation volumes to rail and sea. Since 2012 a special Corporate Steering Group has been responsible for coordinating this “Green Logistics” approach. In 2014 this Steering Group defined work packages for specific measures, accounting practices, communication, qualification and internal target achievement methods. The German Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) played an active advisory role during this period.
In 2014, the Volkswagen Wolfsburg location became the first to define binding environmental performance objectives for its Plant Logistics, requiring CO2 emissions from internal truck and rail freight movements to be reduced by one-quarter. A few statistics will help to illustrate the scale of logistics operations at this location. Every day, 3,400 new vehicles leave the location on 210 double-decker rail wagons and 140 road transporters, while inbound shipments of raw materials, parts and assemblies are received from around 2,600 suppliers, transported on around 100 rail wagons and some 910 trucks.
Since 2014, all finished engines transported from Chemnitz to Emden have now gone by rail, reducing CO2 emissions by 165 t annually. As far as vehicle transportation is concerned, switching from road to rail reduced annual CO2 emissions from European mainline operations by a further 1,812 t in 2014. At the same time we are making increased use of low-CO2 rail wagons that also meet the strictest standards on noise emissions. For example Volkswagen Group Logistics has hired 300 sliding wall wagons from Touax Rail Ltd, built by the Polish manufacturer Greenbrier. These wagons, which are equipped with “whispering brakes” that reduce noise by more than 75%, are expected to be in use on rail routes between European locations of the Volkswagen Group by February 2015. This will result in a further shift in transport from road to rail and a further reduction in CO2 emissions.

By making use of environmentally friendly and cost-efficient modes of transport, the logistics sector is making an important contribution to the corporate objectives of the Volkswagen Group.

Every year, Porsche too sets green logistics targets. These targets are aimed at reducing packaging volumes, promoting the use of reusable containers and the purchasing of efficient plant and equipment, reducing transport operations and promoting the use of environmentally friendly modes of transport. On the inbound logistics side, haulage contractors must comply with green logistics requirements on aspects such as use of low-pollutant vehicles, driver training and vehicle maintenance intervals. Since 2014, 100% of haulage trucks operated by freight forwarders serving Porsche have complied with Euro 5 or higher emissions standards. All logistics processes at Porsche are also certified to DIN ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. Maritime shipping is a further important cornerstone of Porsche’s logistics operations. By adding a third port to its logistics network in China, the company has reduced its CO2 emissions in this country by 45%. Porsche has also expanded its transport network in the United Kingdom, where a second port has reduced CO2 emissions by approximately 10%.
As the Volkswagen Group’s operations become increasingly internationalized, the importance of sea and inland waterway transport continues to grow. By making use of such environmentally friendly and cost-efficient modes of transport, the logistics sector is making an important contribution to the corporate objectives of the Volkswagen Group. A further important landmark in 2014 was the opening of the Fallersleben container terminal operated by GVZ Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH, which has extended the capabilities of the Wolfsburg Multimodal Logistics Center. In its first year of operation, this terminal handled approximately 152,751 m³ of goods for Volkswagen AG, which is one of GVZ Wolfsburg’s main customers.

Clean Shipping Index


Conservation of biological diversity is one of the Volkswagen Group’s stated aims. In 2007 Volkswagen formulated a mission statement in which it committed to preserving biodiversity “at all of its locations”. As a member of the “Biodiversity in Good Company” initiative, we are also committed to integrating biodiversity protection step by step into our management processes. By 2014, for example, Volkswagen had commissioned 32 reports that analyzed and evaluated emissions risks to water, soil and biodiversity at its European production locations. We also give preference to brownfield sites when planning construction projects, in order to minimize land sealing.
Volkswagen also promotes the development of practical biodiversity management tools, by participating in expert forums and scientific studies. These include the joint working group on management indicators of “Biodiversity in Good Company” and econsense, and a research project studying the impact of product systems on biodiversity led by the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics, a project in which the German Federal Ministry for the Environment is participating. 53
In 2014 we again used the “Biodiversity in Good Company” initiative as a learning and dialogue platform – for the first time also open to our suppliers – and as a tool for bringing together stakeholders from politics, public bodies, associations and universities at both national and international level. NABU continued to serve as an adviser and project partner.
Our voluntary initiatives to protect biodiversity or safeguard ecosystem services focused on the following areas: research funding; biotope networking; protection of nature and biodiversity; and afforestation and forest conversion. These initiatives were in many cases combined with environmental education measures. Lighthouse projects during the reporting period comprised:

  • The “Think Blue. Nature.” project, in which Volkswagen’s initial investment will be €260,000. As well as sponsoring for the CESMO (= Corridor Ecologico Sierra Madre Oriental, 4 million hectares) biodiversity corridor, which provides a habitat for around 650 endangered species, this project also comprises the “Eco Chavos” initiative, which was launched in April 2014 and is a joint project between Volkswagen de México, the Mexican government and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit. Under this project, 300 young people will act as environmental ambassadors to inspire a further 10,000 young people to take part in nature conservation activities in one of the seven conservation areas in the CESMO corridor. 54
  • Volkswagen de México’s long-running initiative “Por amor al planeta” (for love of the planet), the country’s largest private research funding program.
  • Jointly with NABU, Volkswagen is also supporting the “Welcome Wolf” information campaign and the project to renaturalize the Lower Havel River in Germany, home to around 1,000 endangered species.
  • A project jointly developed by Volkswagen Financial Services and NABU to promote climate-friendly vehicle fleet management and simultaneously restore a number of German wetland areas (carbon sinks). 13 wetlands are now included in the scheme, which in September 2014 was named an official project of the UN Decade on Biodiversity.
  • The “Natural Classroom” at the Environment Center in Breitengüßbach, which has been named an official project of the UN Decade on Biodiversity and is funded by the AUDI Environment Foundation. The Foundation will also be providing €250,000 of funding over a five-year period for the Steigerwald Sustainability Center.

The environmental project drawn up by Volkswagen Financial Services and NABU combines promoting climate-friendly vehicle fleet management with restoring a number of German wetland areas.

Volkswagen de México’s long-running initiative “Por amor al planeta” is the country’s largest private research funding program.

In 2014, the Chattanooga location of Volkswagen Group of America was presented with the Environmental Protection Agency‘s new “Rain Catcher Award”. The award was presented for the location’s excellent green infrastructure measures and protection of water resources. In 2014 the Chattanooga location also received the Chattanooga Times Free Press “Best Green Business Award”.