Environmental Management

The Volkswagen Group has a long tradition of commitment to environmental protection. Our environmental strategy sets binding, measurable targets at every stage of the value chain, aimed at further improving environmental protection within the Group.

The Volkswagen Group’s future program, TOGETHER – Strategy 2025, reveals how Volkswagen plans to excel.

By taking responsibility for environmental issues, we intend to become a role model in all things related to the environment. This sense of responsibility informs all our thoughts and actions in equal measure in all the decisions we take. We pay particular attention to the emissions and resource utilization of our product portfolio, our locations and our plants.

With this in mind, we have defined the following targets:

  • To continuously reduce our carbon footprint
  • To continuously reduce our pollutant emissions
  • To continuously reduce our resource consumption

In our quest to become a role model in all things related to the environment, we have drawn up several guidelines:

  • In addition to addressing the global challenge of climate change (reducing CO2 emissions), our approach covers all other environmental resources, especially in terms of conserving water, soil and air quality as well as energy and raw materials. Our decades of experience and the expertise we have built up as a result will come to fruition both globally and locally.
  • We employ a holistic approach by researching, developing and democratizing environmentally friendly innovations, significantly reducing environmental impacts in the process.
  • We significantly reduce environmental impacts throughout the entire product life cycle by setting ourselves ambitious goals and acting as a driving force in both the production phase (supply chain) and use phase of our products.
  • We communicate our measures, achievements and projects as transparently as possible.
  • Our achievements are substantiated by top rankings in environmental awards.

Our Group targets state that all newly developed vehicles should improve on the environmental performance of predecessor models in every respect over the vehicle’s entire life cycle. In production, by 2018 we aim to reduce the five key environmental indicators – energy and water consumption, waste for disposal, and CO2 and VOC emissions – by 25% per manufactured vehicle compared with the 2010 baseline.  Based on the mean value of these five indicators, by 2016 the Group had already succeeded in reducing the environmental impact per unit of production of our passenger cars and light commercial vehicles by 25.3%.

Organization – Policies and Guidelines

We can only reach our ambitious targets if environmental issues are firmly entrenched in our organizational and decision-making processes. Our long-established environmental management system provides the basis for this. 

All environmental protection activities in the Volkswagen Group are centered around our global principles, which have been expanded and improved over the years, and which are binding for all Group brands:

All those responsible within the Group, within the brands and at our locations are required to comply with these environmental principles. The environmental policies and targets of the VW Passenger Cars/VW Commercial Vehicles brands, Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini, MAN, Porsche, ScaniaŠKODA and SEAT.

 SEAT Environmental Management Complies with ISO 14006

In 2016, SEAT became the first company in Spain’s automotive sector to be certified under the ISO 14006 Ecodesign standard, a certificate which guarantees that the company complies with an environmental management system in all its product design and development processes. Awarded by the TÜV Rheinland organization, the certificate attests to SEAT’s environmental strategy and the ecodesign criteria that now drive the design and development of its entire model line-up. Obtaining ISO 14006 Ecodesign certification is an important milestone for the company, in that it helps the management system to continuously identify, verify and improve the environmental aspects of its design and development processes. The ISO 14006 Ecodesign certificate ensures that any possible impact that a product could have on the environment is carefully considered from the time it is first conceived, encouraging a preventive approach. It considers the environmental impact of a vehicle at each stage in its life cycle, from the development process through to final disposal once it is no longer in use.

As at the end of 2016, in addition to the Group’s environmental protection activities, 97 out of our 120 production sites held a valid ISO 14001 or EMAS certificate. At our Wolfsburg location, home of the Technical Development department, it was decided to temporarily suspend EMAS registration for 2015. In November 2016, following a review by environmental auditors, the plant was re-entered on the EMAS register. In 2016, the environmental management system of the Volkswagen brand’s Technical Development department was successfully recertified to the new ISO 14001:2015 standard. The key new features of this ISO standard include the introduction of the so-called “High-Level Structure” (HLS), greater consideration for environmental factors, and an integrated approach to competitive context based on opportunities and risks.

Many of the production facilities of the Volkswagen, Audi, ŠKODA, SEAT, Bentley, Lamborghini, Porsche, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and MAN brands have had their energy management systems certified under the ISO 50001 standard.

Since 2009, the “Integration of Environmental Factors into the Volkswagen Brand’s Product Development” in the Technical Development department of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand has also been certified to ISO/TR 14062.

Sites with Environmental Certification

(previous year in brackets)

EMAS ISO 14001 ISO 50001
23 (22) 95 (95) 42 (35)
Some locations apply both EMAS and ISO 14001.
A list of all certified locations can be found on the internet.

Group Environmental Protection Bodies

The Group Board of Management is the highest decision-making authority on environmental matters. Since 2012, it has simultaneously functioned as the Group’s Sustainability Board. The CSR and Sustainability Steering Committee reports directly to the Sustainability Board on a regular basis, and is made up of representatives of Group units, brands and companies. The Group-wide management of environmental protection is the responsibility of the Corporate Environment and Energy Steering Committee, with input from numerous specialist bodies such as:

  • the Corporate Life Cycle Engineering Working Group
  • the Corporate Resource-efficient Production Working Group
  • the Corporate CO2 Steering Committee
  • the Vehicle Recycling Steering Committee and
  • the Corporate Energy Working Group

These committees assess and analyze environmental opportunities and risks. To cover the entire value chain (life cycle approach), the corresponding Group divisions are represented on the Corporate Environment & Energy Steering Committee.

The brands and companies are independently responsible for environmental organization at their own headquarters and locations, but base their respective environmental policies on the targets, guidelines and principles that apply across the Group.

Engaging the Workforce

Only a well-informed, qualified workforce can implement the specific measures derived from our Environmental Strategy and achieve the set targets. Since 1976, Environmental Officers at our European locations have regularly convened 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. In support of the production process, the Volkswagen brand has introduced Environmental Ambassadors (SfU) – employees who have been specially trained as environmental experts.  Worldwide, more than 1,000 ambassadors are now operating as front-line contacts and multipliers for production employees. So-called Energy Experts (SfE) are also given special advanced training in energy saving. The Wolfsburg facility alone has more than 70 SfEs helping their colleagues to save energy. Cross-brand, inter-departmental steering committees and working groups also operate at both management and expert level. Employee engagement is supported by an intranet portal showcasing best-practice examples and facilitating direct contact with all the relevant specialists. The portal also outlines fundamental energy-saving guidelines and tips, including a number generated by the central Ideas Management program.

As a further element of organized workforce involvement in meeting the Volkswagen Group’s environmental targets, a “Works Agreement on Environmental Protection” has been in place at Volkswagen AG factories (including the Technical Development department in Wolfsburg) since 1995, and was most recently updated in 2013. It motivates employees to incorporate environmental protection into their everyday work, so that environmental management objectives and measures become an integral part of production reality at all our factories and across all our development activities.

Climate Change

Volkswagen welcomes the ratification of the Paris Agreement on climate change, which aims to limit global warming to less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels. Referring to international climate agreements, our CEO Matthias Müller is calling for the automotive industry to ensure that all fleet CO2 emissions “are steadily reduced to zero by 2050.”

Our most effective lever for reducing our global carbon footprint is to optimize CO2 emissions from the vehicle fleet.  This estimate is supported by the Scope 3 GHG Inventory we have been publishing since 2012, according to which 75% of total CO2 emissions are generated during the use phase.

Our powertrain and fuel strategy is therefore crucial in pointing the way ahead for CO2-neutral, sustainable mobility. Fundamentally, our approach is based on the massive expansion of our expertise in electric mobility. Furthermore, Volkswagen is intensifying its commitment to the development and use of fuels that produce less CO2.

In 2016, we brought nine models with alternative drives to market. They included the following battery electric vehicles (BEVs): the new VW e-up!, the new VW e-Golf, the new VW Golf GTE and the new Audi Q7 e-tron quattro and Audi A3 e-tron. They also included the following vehicles powered by compressed natural gas (CNG): the new VW Golf TGI and Audi A3 g-tron. This means that in Europe alone (as from spring 2017), the Group now offers a total of 21 models equipped with all-electric, plug-in hybrid or natural-gas powertrains. 

A new all-electric e-Crafter concept vehicle was unveiled in 2016 at the IAA Commercial Vehicles motor show. The production version of the vehicle represents a zero-emission urban delivery vehicle with unlimited freight capacity and a range of up to 160 km (100 miles). The first vehicles will be delivered to customers in late 2017.

By 2025, the Group is planning to launch more than 30 new all-electric vehicle models. We will then be in a position to sell two to three million all-electric vehicles each year, representing around a quarter of our total unit sales.

The Group made a commitment to reducing the CO2 emissions of its European new-car fleet to 95 g/km by 2020 at an early stage. We also undertake to uphold CO2 specifications in general, including those affecting light commercial vehicles.

At the moment the Volkswagen Group offers:

  • 36 models <=  95g CO2/km,
  • 100 models <= 100 g CO2/km,
  • 450 models <= 120 g CO2/km and 
  • 596 models <= 130 g CO2/km in Germany

(respectively engine/gearbox variations, corresponding to DAT guideline