Cutting fuel consumption, and the resulting reduction in emissions, are important measures towards improving the environmental performance of our vehicles. However, these on their own do not reduce a car’s environmental impact to a minimum. After all, this does not begin when it starts being driven by the customer. The materials and components must first be manufactured and the raw materials produced – and this long before the wheels of a new car turn for the first time.
In order to reduce the environmental impact of a vehicle, the entire product lifecycle is taken into consideration when vehicles are being developed. This means that the assessment of new vehicles, components and materials begins before they are even produced: from the first idea and design sketches, through production and the subsequent usage phase, to recycling.
Volkswagen produces lifecycle assessments – or environmental impact studies – in accordance with ISO standards 14040 and 14044 to achieve this. Using these, we determine where improvements have the greatest effect and develop innovations that target these points directly. We call this approach lifecycle engineering.
We keep our customers, shareholders and other interested groups informed about the success stories of our environmentally responsible vehicle development and lifecycle assessments. The Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand uses the term “environmental ratings” when it publishes the ecological advances in new vehicle models compared with their immediate predecessors, while Audi publishes this under the heading of “environmental footprint”. For the communication to be credible, it is important that the results and evaluations meet internationally recognized quality standards and are transparent, comparable and understandable. In order to ensure this, the results of the lifecycle assessments are reviewed, confirmed and certified by independent experts, in accordance with the requirements of ISO 14040.