The automotive industry is on the verge of making the next quantum leap in innovation. While fuel-efficient conventional vehicles with low CO2 emissions will remain important for the foreseeable future, it is digitalization, combined with electric mobility and autonomous driving, that will transform our business – with implications that many people are not yet aware of. Over the next few years, not only will cars undergo a massive transformation as electric vehicles start to penetrate the marketplace, mobility itself will become a separate product, redefined by customers, new players and traditional automakers. As the basis for new mobility services, the Group has created two new business areas: Digitalization and New Mobility Services.

Product development

Our product development process lays the foundations for maximizing the fuel economy and resource efficiency of our vehicles.

During the 2016 fiscal year, the Volkswagen Group’s research and development activities concentrated on expanding our product portfolio and improving the functionality, quality, safety and environmental compatibility of our products, while simultaneously reducing the number of platforms we use. The Volkswagen Group invested €11.5 billion in research and development in 2016, much of which was spent on efficiency-enhancing technologies.

Numerous Patents Filed

In the 2016 fiscal year, we filed 6,465 patent applications worldwide (compared with 6,244 the previous year) for employee inventions, more than half of them in Germany. The year-on-year increase is primarily attributable to the rising number of applications relating to driver assistance systems, conventional and alternative powertrains, and lightweight construction, once again highlighting the company’s outstanding capacity for innovation.

Audi Q7 e-tron 3,0l TDI quattro – fuel consumption in l/100 km: from 1.9 to 1.8 (combined); energy consumption in kWh/100 km: from 19.0 to 18.1 (combined); CO2 emissions in g/km: from 50 to 48 (combined); CO2 efficiency class: A+

The Volkswagen Group’s new passenger car fleet in the EU (excluding Lamborghini and Bentley) emitted an average of 120 g CO2/km over the reporting period. For the purposes of European CO2 legislation, the Lamborghini and Bentley brands each have an independent fleet, both of which likewise met their individual targets. In the USA, the fleet emissions figure is 162 g CO2/km (Audi/VW calendar year; not VW Group of America), in China 153 g CO2/km (VW Group (Import) Co, Shanghai Volkswagen, FAW-Volkswagen) – equivalent to 6.51 l/100 km – and in Brazil 131 g CO2/km.

CO2 Emissions

of the Volkswagen Group's European (EU28)1 new Passenger Car Fleet in grams per kilometer

Grafik: Emissions Of The Volkswagen Grpoup's European (EU28) new Passenger Car Fleet (EU 28)<sup>1</sup> des Volkswagen Konzerns in g/km

1This figure is the volume-weighted average of all specific CO2emissions from new passenger cars registered for the first time in the respective calendar year, based on the calculation logic defined in EU Regulation (EC) 443/2009 (”NEDC test cycle“).
2Subject to official publication by the European Commission.

Powertrain and Fuel Strategy

The Volkswagen Group’s Powertrain and Fuel Strategy is based on a three-pronged approach consisting of the optimization of conventional powertrains, more intensive use of low-carbon fuels and greater focus on hybrid/all-electric powertrains. It paves the way for carbon-neutral, sustainable mobility in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We aim to boost powertrain efficiency with each new generation of vehicles – regardless of whether they are driven by combustion engines, hybrid drives, plug-in hybrids, all-electric powertrains or, perhaps in the near future, fuel-cell systems. All our mobility concepts are tailored to the requirements and customer needs of our respective markets. By taking this approach, we will broaden our portfolio of drive systems, aiming for increased coexistence of conventional powertrains and electric mobility systems in the future. Our current modular matrix platforms are designed so that the full range of drive systems can be deployed and flexibly fitted on production lines in all our global locations. In the future, Volkswagen will focus on massively expanding our range of electric drives. We will also be adding an electrified version of our modular matrix (the Modular Electrification Toolkit or MEB) that will form the backbone of upcoming electric vehicles. In addition, Volkswagen is accelerating the introduction of liquid and gaseous fuels from renewable or CO2-neutral sources. Even users of existing vehicles can benefit from these approaches.

Powertrain and Fuel Strategy

Grafik: The Road Tp Carbon-Neutral Mobility

We have significantly reduced the fuel consumption of our vehicles with conventional drive systems through the use of efficient TFSI, TSI and TDI engines, dual-clutch transmissions, lightweight construction and improved aerodynamics. And we continue to work to enhance our conventional powertrains’ potential for improvement and make our engines as clean as possible by fitting our petrol engines with gasoline particulate filters, our diesel engines with the latest and most efficient SCR catalytic converters.

Gasoline particulate filters (GPF)

Particulate filters for petrol engines, known as “gasoline particulate filters (GPF)”, will come into much more widespread use across our whole portfolio. In a step-by-step rollout starting in 2017, all the Group fleet’s direct-injection TSI and TFSI engines will be fitted with gasoline particulate filters. This will reduce emissions of fine soot particulates by direct-injection petrol engines by up to 90%.

By 2022, up to seven million Volkswagen Group vehicles could be fitted with the technology every year. The first engines to be equipped with GPF in June 2017 will be the 1.4 TSI in the new Volkswagen Tiguan and the 2.0 TFSI in the Audi A5. The system will then be implemented in other models and engine generations.

Over the reporting period, Volkswagen continued to develop the TSI engine family. The latest generation celebrated its debut in the spring of 2017, in the form of the 1.5 TSI evo in the new Golf. This will be followed by various new engines, including a BlueMotion version capable of 96 kW (130 hp). The TSI evo is the perfect validation of the Group’s strategy of using modular high-tech toolkits to make pioneering technologies available to customers in standard production vehicles.

1.5 TSI evo engines

The latest generation of the new EA211 TSI evo engine, presented at the international Vienna Motor Symposium, starts with the 1.5 TSI, initially with outputs of 96 kW and 110 kW. Highlights of the new power unit include the first-time appearance in a production car of an exhaust-gas turbocharger with variable turbine geometry (VTG), the Miller combustion process with a high compression ratio of 12.5:1, a common-rail injection system with pressures of up to 350 bar, an innovative thermal management system, and ACT variable cylinder deactivation technology. These high-technology elements result in efficiency improvements of up to 10% compared with the previous-generation 1.4 TSI engine (92 kW). The improvements in fuel consumption take effect across broad swathes of the engine map, so have a direct impact on customers’ everyday driving experience.

Natural-gas engines play an important role in our powertrain portfolio. The chemical composition of the fuel means that CO2 emission levels are around 25% lower than those produced by petrol (gasoline) engines. Our customers can experience this in the new Golf TGI (81 kW with six-speed transmission: natural gas 3.6 kg/100 km and 98 g CO2/km; 81 kW with DSG: natural gas 3.5 kg/100 km and 95 g CO2/km).

Both the Audi A4 g-tron and the Audi A5 Sportback g-tron exhibited in Geneva in 2017 are sporty, versatile and optionally almost carbon-neutral. The two g-tron models will be launched in the spring of 2017, representing yet another Audi offering that contributes to the future of sustainable mobility. Following the launch of the A3 Sportback g-tron, this will bring another two other models to market that run on natural gas or Audi’s climate-friendly e-gas. 

Natural gas is also an economical, clean alternative for powering heavy commercial vehicles. In order to be able to use natural-gas engines in long-distance trucks and buses, however, compressed natural gas (CNG) must be replaced with liquefied natural gas (LNG), because this is the only way to achieve the required energy density and hence the desired range. The relevant infrastructure must be improved before the widespread use of natural gas as a fuel becomes feasible. For example, only a few countries have well-developed networks of filling stations offering natural gas. With Scania’s introduction of the opticruise automated gearshift system for gas trucks, these vehicles are becoming more attractive. Now offering gas trucks running on biogas, ethanol and ordinary diesel engines adapted for biodiesel and HVO, Scania is strengthening its position as the commercial vehicle manufacturer with the broadest range of vehicles running on renewable fuels. MAN also manufactures Euro-6 trucks and buses with various drive systems that can be powered by biodiesel or biomethane (sustainable natural gas).

We are expanding our conventional and natural gas-powered engine range using components that electrically assist the powertrain, and are determined to make electric mobility a new Volkswagen trademark. Our range already includes all-electric vehicles such as the e-up!, the e-load up! and the new e-Golf, which, with a maximum range of 300 km (NEDC), has a significantly longer range than its predecessor. All these vehicles are already capable of driving with zero local emissions on short and medium journeys. 

By combining drive concepts in this way, Volkswagen sees an opportunity to offer customers electric vehicles that will meet almost all their mobility needs, build trust in the new technologies, and thus help bring about the electric mobility breakthrough.

Most customers want to take their vehicles on longer trips as well. Until all-electric vehicles offer the range required for longer journeys, Volkswagen regards plug-in hybrid vehicles that combine highly efficient combustion engines with zero-emission electric motors as an excellent bridging technology. For some years, we have been offering hybrid models in multiple vehicle classes. Porsche showed off the new Panamera E-Hybrid at the Paris Motor SHow. And across the Group as a whole, we will be launching 17 new plug-in hybrids over the next two years. By 2025, we intend to bring 30 new all-electric vehicles to market.

The percentage of drivers who mainly travel short distances is growing. They include commuters and city residents, but also delivery vehicles in urban areas. The population shift towards urban areas continues unabated, and is by no means confined to the burgeoning megacities of Asia and South America. On short, local journeys, all-electric vehicles like the e-up!, e-load up! and e-Golf are emission-free, hence of particular interest to customers who only cover short or medium distances in their everyday driving. Private battery recharging options – such as charging stations installed on customers’ premises – must be supplemented by a good public recharging infrastructure in the medium to long term.

September saw the groundbreaking ceremony for Dresden’s largest electric mobility recharging facility. The facility, which is directly adjacent to the Volkswagen “Gläserne Manufaktur” (Transparent Factory) exhibition space, obtains the electricity it needs for its fast-charging stations from photovoltaic panels on the Volkswagen building. This ensures that the recharged vehicles are carbon-neutral.

Eco-friendly drivetrain technologies in the Group1,3

Vehicles produced

    2015 2016   Change
(2015 to 2016)
  Gas drives
(natural gas and LPG)
86,781 (0.90 %) 72,955 (0.73 %) -16%
Globally Hybrid drives 39,107 (0.40 %) 39,037 (0.39 %) -0.2%
  All-electric drives 17,076 (0.18 %) 15,729 (0.16 %) -0.8%
  Eco-friendly drives (total) 142,949 (1.48 %) 127,721 (1.27 %) -11%
    2015 2016   Change
(2015 to 2016)
  Gas drives
(natural gas and LPG)
34,678 (1.04 %) 30,807 (0.90 %) -11%
Western Europe2 Hybrid drives 33,759 (1.01 %) 33,222 (0.97 %) -1.6%
  All-electric drives 12,987 (0.39 %) 9,480 (0.28 %) -27%
  Eco-friendly drives (total) 81,424 (2.43 %) 73,509 (2.16 %) -10%
1 Volkswagen Group production: VW PC, Audi, ŠKODA, SEAT, VW light commercial vehicles,
Audi light commercial vehicles excl. luxury brands.
2 Western Europe: BEL, DNK, DEU, FIN, FRA, GRC, GBR, IRL, ISL, ITA,
LUX, NLD, NOR, AUT, PRT, SWE, CHE, ESP, rest of W. Europe.
3 Various factors account for the slight decline, including a model change (Golf BEV) and the elimination of the LPG incentive.

The Volkswagen Group’s modular toolkit strategy achieves significant synergies by focusing on modules that can be used across multiple model series and brands. The vehicle architecture is designed in such a way that all types of drive system can be integrated flexibly and economically. This is particularly true of models based on the same platform; for example, they can use a standardized plug-in hybrid system consisting of a highly efficient turbocharged petrol engine, an electric motor, a compact six-speed dual-clutch transmission developed specifically for these applications, and a lithium-ion battery. We have incorporated the production of electrified vehicles into the manufacturing processes at our existing factories, including Wolfsburg, Emden, Bratislava, Ingolstadt and Leipzig.

The Modular Electrification Toolkit (MEB) is designed as a new toolkit for building vehicles based on an all-electric powertrain. This design approach offers a wide range of advantages, especially in terms of packaging, i.e. the arrangement of powertrain components, auxiliary systems and interior features.

The first compact Volkswagen based on the MEB will be the I.D., which celebrated its world premiere at the Paris Motor Show where it kicked off the countdown to the future. A new electric car fleet will soon follow. The I.D. has a range of between 400 and 600 km (250-400 miles), and thanks to a newly developed “design DNA” for electric cars, will be immediately recognizable as a zero-emission vehicle.

The new compact electric car will be launched in 2020, in parallel with the new Golf – at a price level equivalent to a comparably powerful, well-equipped Golf. The production version of the I.D. will make a significant contribution to ramping up the electric mobility market. Initially, the powertrain in the I.D. will consist of an electric motor with a peak output of 125 kW (170 hp) which, together with power electronics and transmission, is built into the rear axle. Other powertrain components include a high-voltage flat battery built into the floor of the car, and auxiliary systems housed in the front of the vehicle. 

Later production versions may also include electric motors with more or less power, but the design concept also allows for I.D. models with different sizes of battery. 

The vehicle’s battery can be charged by cable or through an inductive charging interface in the front of the vehicle. It will also be possible to send the car away to automatically recharge itself by induction. The fast-charging system means that it takes just 30 minutes to recharge the battery to 80% capacity.

The heart of an electric vehicle is its battery, the energy content of which is the deciding factor in determining the vehicle’s range. For all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, we currently use lithium-ion cells that are assembled into battery systems at our Braunschweig factory. We are also researching other types of battery based on solid electrolytes, which have a higher energy density and also meet stricter safety standards. We are investigating ways of industrializing these technologies. Meanwhile, the next generation of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles will still be fitted with improved lithium-ion technology. Electric motors are manufactured at our plant in Kassel.

A battery roadmap detailing the development of energy density and ranges was presented by Thomas Sedran at the Goldman Sachs 8th Annual Global Automotive Conference in London in December:

Roadmap battery cell chemistry and energy density

Starting in 2016, we have been producing electrified vehicles based on our Modular Longitudinal Matrix (MLB) locally in China. Electrified vehicles based on our Modular Electrification Toolkit (MEB) will follow at a later date. We are also planning to localize core components, including the high-voltage battery system. 

Volkswagen Group China will be prepared to deliver around 1.5 million zero emission cars to Chinese customers by 2025

Hydrogen will still not be widely available as a fuel in the medium term. Both hydrogen filling stations and production plants for producing hydrogen as a renewable will need to be developed. Volkswagen has been working on fuel-cell technologies for over 15 years and has gained extensive experience operating test fleets. The decision as to whether to proceed to series production will depend on market requirements and infrastructure. Volkswagen is actively involved in the H2 Mobility project, the aim of which is the systematic development of an H2 infrastructure in Germany. 

Thanks to our conventional and alternative technologies, as well as our modular toolkit strategy (including the new MEB), which allows innovations to be incorporated rapidly into different vehicles, we are ideally positioned to meet the challenges of the future. We have expanded our expertise in the field of electric traction by bringing additional specialists and experts on board.

CO2 Limits for Trucks and Buses

Having already adopted CO2 legislation for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles, in May 2014 the European Commission set out its strategy for reducing CO2 emissions from trucks and buses, with the aim of reducing CO2 emissions from the entire EU commercial-vehicle fleet. Until now, CO2 emissions from commercial vehicles have not been recorded, since the size, weight, application, mileage and usage conditions of trucks and buses are extremely varied. Manufacturers are currently collaborating with the EU Commission to draw up a generally accessible quantification and binding declaration of vehicle CO2 emissions using the VECTO CO2 simulation model (Vehicle Energy Consumption Calculation Tool). The aim is to further enhance transparency and increase market pressure. Before the EU agrees CO2 limits for trucks and buses, however, an impact assessment must first be carried out in order to identify the most cost-effective solution.

Given the huge diversity of vehicle models and multi-stage production processes that characterize heavy commercial vehicles, it would not be appropriate to use the one-size-fits-all approach to maximum admissible CO2 limits applied to cars and vans. Along with our competitors, we advocate a transparent quantification of CO2 emissions that looks at the vehicle as a whole, i.e. including trailers and bodywork, and not just at the engine or tractor unit. This transparency should intensify the competition to build the most fuel-efficient, hence carbon-efficient, commercial vehicles, resulting in lower CO2 emissions. Europe’s commercial-vehicle industry supports the aim of reducing CO2 emissions and improving road safety.

However, new vehicles are not solely responsible for CO2 emission trends. Important roles are also played by tires with reduced rolling resistance, by the aerodynamic trim of trailers, and by driving behavior, as well as alternative fuels, transport infrastructure and traffic conditions. In view of this, there is a joint obligation on automakers, but also on policy-makers, automotive suppliers, petroleum companies and logistics companies, to take concerted action to minimize CO2 emissions in the European transport sector. Possible solutions could include long trucks; according to scientific studies by the Federal Highway Research Institute (BASt), they could cut CO2 emissions by up to 25% and are currently participating in field trials on German roads. This would make tackling CO2 emissions the joint responsibility of manufacturers, haulage companies and policy-makers. The state would be responsible for developing appropriate infrastructure, the haulage companies for a more intelligent management of logistics processes. As manufacturers, our responsibility would include investing in the development of more fuel-efficient vehicles and alternative powertrains.

NEDC Test Cycle Comes in for Criticism

The New European Driving Cycle (NEDC), the procedure used in the EU to measure passenger-car fuel consumption, has come in for repeated criticism from environmental organizations. Critics claim that the CO2 emissions measured in the NEDC’s 20-minute laboratory-based test cycle are much lower than the emission levels generated in today’s actual, on-the-road driving conditions. Like all other vehicle manufacturers, however, we must comply with this legally mandated test cycle.

The European Union is planning to introduce the new World Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) in September 2017, which is intended to produce more realistic consumption figures. Volkswagen welcomes the introduction of this new test procedure. Like the NEDC, the WLTP aims to provide an objective benchmark for comparing technical products. 

A further important European regulation pertains to Real Driving Emissions (RDE) for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles. The packages of legislation are currently being elaborated; uniform limits for nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions will then apply across the EU from September 2017. These limits must be complied with in real-world road traffic, making the RDE test procedure fundamentally different from the Euro 6 standard still in force, which stipulates that the limits are compulsory on the test bed. The RDE regulation is intended primarily to improve air quality in urban areas and areas close to traffic. It will lead to stricter requirements for exhaust gas aftertreatment in passenger cars and light commercial vehicles.

Life Cycle Engineering

A comprehensive environmental assessment entails more than just an analysis of fuel consumption; it must consider all the environmental impacts of a vehicle over its full life cycle, from the manufacturing process – including resource extraction, production of materials, supplier processes and our own in-house production at all locations – through the use phase – including driving emissions, fuel preparation and supply – through to the ultimate recycling of the vehicle at the end of its life cycle.

Improving each vehicle’s environmental performance over its full life cycle is one of our Technical Development department’s most firmly anchored environmental objectives. In order to meet this goal, we prepare detailed life cycle assessments (LCA) of new vehicles, powertrains, components and materials, so as to identify those areas where improvements will have the biggest effect. We then develop innovations targeting precisely these hotspots. This process is known as Life Cycle Engineering. An eponymous working group is tasked with ensuring the uniform Group-wide implementation of Life Cycle Engineering. One of the outcomes of the working group’s activities was the creation of the in-house software package LEAD (Life Cycle Environmental Assessment Database), a server-based system for the Group-wide sharing of harmonized data that guarantees the use of standardized routines for calculating environmental footprints.

As part of optimizing the whole value chain in the most holistic way, we aim to minimize the environmental impact of our vehicles by working closely with our suppliers. This is why Volkswagen joined the CDP Supply Chain Program (SCP) back in 2015. In addition, we seek to stay in direct contact with our suppliers by organizing targeted workshops in which we jointly discuss and develop innovative approaches to the environmental optimization of components and processes.

In 2016, we used the CDP SCP to send out a questionnaire to 119 suppliers. We received comprehensive responses from 83% of them – 13% more than the average response rate in the SCP.

This year, the CDP evaluated the “Ability” of the 3,300 participating companies to make contact with their suppliers. On a scale from A to D, Volkswagen achieved an A- ranking, versus an average rating of C-. The ranking was based on an analysis of the answers to the questionnaire.

We report on Life Cycle Engineering successes to our customers, shareholders and other stakeholders by issuing what we call Environmental Commendations. Based on an environmental impact assessment complying with ISO standards 14040 and 14044, Environmental Commendations describe the environmental improvements in our latest models compared with their predecessors. The Volkswagen Passenger Cars and Commercial Vehicles brands both publish Environmental Commendations. So does the Audi brand, under the heading Environmental Footprint. 

Alongside LCAs, we also use other life-cycle approaches. In 2015, we worked closely with the Technical University of Berlin (Technische Universität Berlin) to further develop our methods for calculating what is known as the water footprint. Based on a vehicle’s LCA, we calculate and analyze the amount of water consumed by the vehicle over its entire life cycle. This enables us to take specific actions to reduce water consumption.

Resource Efficiency

Compared with purely environmental Life Cycle Engineering, our analysis of the efficiency of our resource utilization takes the whole process one step further. Measures to improve a product’s environmental performance over its life cycle are also assessed in commercial terms, so we can identify which approaches achieve the greatest environmental improvements in relation to the amount invested.

Group Research is involved in two long-term projects examining what the resource-efficient factory and resource-efficient vehicle of the future will look like. New technologies such as electric and fuel-cell vehicles play a key role here, especially in terms of their resource requirements as well as new closed-loop recycling concepts.

 “Proactive Resource Efficiency”: Use of Recycled Materials (Eco-friendly Materials)

Minimizing our consumption of primary raw materials is a key objective for Volkswagen. With this in mind, we explicitly insist on the use of quality-assured recycled materials in almost all vehicle components.

Recycled materials – also referred to as secondary raw materials – are materials manufactured from production residues or end-of-life materials. They must meet the same high Volkswagen quality standards as primary raw materials; this we ensure by subjecting them to regular inspections. Only the highest quality materials are used in order to guarantee the safety, reliability and longevity of our products and satisfy our customers’ extremely high expectations.

To calculate the proportion of recycled materials in an entire vehicle, we identify the materials in all its components and their recycled material content, and add them up. In order to do this, we depend on reliable information obtained directly from our suppliers, as well as data from industry-specific associations, since a single vehicle model may include around 5,000 components containing more than 10,000 material items.

As well as dramatically improving a vehicle’s environmental footprint, the use of recycled and renewable materials can also make good economic sense. New Volkswagen branded vehicles already have a high proportion of recycled and renewable content, accounting for approximately one-third of the weight of six models (Polo 5 and 6, Golf 6 and 7, Passat 8, Sharan) for which precise figures have already been calculated.

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. Similarly, kenaf and flax fibers are used in armrests, while paper fibers are used in cargo floors and roof reinforcement structures, and cotton fibers in floor insulation. 

In December 2016, Volkswagen signed a pilot agreement for returning scrap aluminium directly to suppliers for subsequent reuse in vehicles. The implementation of the Aluminium Closed Loop Project in 2017 will be the very first time a closed loop for aluminium has been organized with non-Group suppliers.

Input materials and primary products as illustrated by the example of the
VW Golf

Input materials and primary products as illustrated by the example of the VW Golf

Leightweight Construction

Lightweight body shell production remains a strategic development priority. Volkswagen uses hot-formed, high-strength steels in production models. We are also pursuing a composite materials approach for specific vehicles and platforms, using a range of different materials in one body shell. Lightweight materials such as aluminium are also used in the development of new platforms. 

The proportion of hot-formed metals in the latest Passat has been increased by more than 75% compared with its predecessor. New additions include crossmembers at the front and rear of the car and in the transmission tunnel. While this means more energy is consumed in the production process, the reduced fuel consumption resulting from component weight savings has a dramatic impact on CO2 emissions and energy consumption over the vehicle’s life cycle as a whole.

Porsche continues to pursue a policy of “smart lightweight construction” by implementing a sophisticated mix of materials in body designs. One example from the reporting period is the start of series production of the new Panamera. For the first time, the Panamera’s roof and side panels are made out of aluminium, and more than 30% of the bodywork is also now made out of aluminium. But the proportion of high-strength steel alloys has also been increased, among other things by integrating a highly complex tube of super-high-strength steel as the bulkhead support. 

On September 22, 2016, the Open Hybrid LabFactory (OHLF) was opened in the presence of Federal Research Minister Professor Wanka and other dignitaries. We are researching economical lightweight construction technologies for series production as part of the OHLF public-private partnership, a joint venture with the Lower Saxony Research Center for Vehicle Technology (NFF) at the Technical University of Braunschweig, the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft and various other industry partners. 

Audi is committed to the use of lightweight construction to improve the dynamics of its models while at the same time reducing fuel consumption. The Audi Q7 body is largely made of aluminium. Thanks to the Audi Space Frame construction, the vehicle body only weighs a little more than 200 kg – 71 kg less than its predecessor. The weight of the vehicle as a whole has been reduced by as much as 325 kg. 

Lightweight construction and a high level of rigidity are also defining characteristics of the body shell of the Audi R8 Coupé. Along with various aluminium components, the supercar’s high-strength, almost torsion-free backbone consists of a rear panel, center tunnel and three-part B-pillars that are all made of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP). 

Similarly, lightweight construction plays a key role in the successful new Audi A4, which entered production in 2015. Depending on the model variant, an intelligent choice of materials and more extensive use of lightweight construction techniques make the new Audi A4 a full 65 kg lighter than its predecessor. The car produces 6 t fewer greenhouse gas emissions (equivalent to CO2) over its full life cycle than its predecessor, thanks to the use of eco-friendly production methods, reduced weight, and a wide range of efficiency enhancements such as outstanding aerodynamics (the 1.4 TFSI ultra has a drag coefficient of just 0.23). This translates into a 16% improvement. In this way, we have succeeded in reducing emissions even at the production stage, despite our increased use of lightweight construction materials. While the earlier model generated around 7.16 t of greenhouse gases in the production phase, the new Audi A4’s production process has reduced this by around 4% to 6.85 t.

Environmental Awards

Volkswagen Group and Group brand models received numerous awards in 2016 for their environmentally friendly features. Here are some examples:

  • In the ADAC EcoTest, the models tested in 2016 – including the ŠKODA Octavia Combi 1.4 TSI G-TEC, ŠKODA Superb Combi 1.6 TDI GreenLine and VW Passat Variant 1.6 TDI SCR BlueMotion – were all awarded the top 5-star rating. The overall results of the ADAC EcoTest are based on a range of metrics, including tests of emissions of e.g. carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides and particulates in realistic driving cycles. Driving cycles are conducted with daytime running lights (or low-beam headlights) switched on, the air-conditioning system turned on, and a 200 kg payload. In late 2016, the ADAC EcoTest methodology was revised. Vehicles that achieve good results in the EcoTest must now also be tested on the road using a PEMS device (Portable Emission Measurement System). In 2016, the VW up! 1.0 TSI BMT beats was subjected to and successfully passed such a PEMS re-test. 
  • AUTO TEST, the monthly consumer advice edition of AUTO BILD, and ÖKOTREND, the independent environmental research institution, presented awards for the most environmentally friendly cars in all classes in 2016. Two Volkswagen Passenger Cars models won in their respective classes: the eco-up! 1.0 EcoFuel in the subcompact class and the Passat GTE in the upper medium (mid-size luxury) class. The Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid was voted number one in the SUV class. Assessment criteria included the manufacturer’s commitment to environmental protection and social responsibility, and the environmental impact of the vehicles over their entire life cycle.
  • In the China Eco-Car Assessment Programme (C-ECAP), the VW Golf TSI was the first vehicle ever to be awarded the platinum medal, the best possible ranking. Vehicles were evaluated in six categories, including energy efficiency and recycling quotient.
  • In the 2017 VCS environmental rankings, three Group models – the VW up!, ŠKODA Citigo and SEAT Mii – took first places in the subcompact (mini) class.
  • In the compact (small family) class, the Audi A3 Sportback TFSI g-tron beat the VW Golf TGI; both vehicles are equipped with natural-gas drive systems.
  • The Caddy TGI beat out other 5-seater vans to take first place.
  • The editorial team of Engadget, one of the leading U.S. online technology magazines, bestowed this year’s “Best of CES” award on the BUDD-e in the Best Innovation category. Special mention was made of the vehicle’s range and fast-charging mode. Online consumer guide SlashGear, which generally rates smartphones, cars, computers and digital lifestyles, also named the BUDD-e as overall winner.
  • VW is the brand that has received the most awards in the “Ten best 2016” rankings organized by Car & Driver magazine. After assessing 231 models available on the Brazilian market, a specialist jury chose the move up! TSI as the “most sustainable model” and the speed up! TSI as the “best hatchback”, with particular emphasis on the new 1.0 TSI Total Flex engine. The new 1.0 TSI Total Flex engine is Volkswagen do Brasil’s most advanced engine and the first in Brazil to feature direct injection, a turbo compressor and Flex technology. The engine has already received a number of awards in the Brazilian marketplace.
  • Volkswagen Passenger Cars vehicles emerged from a test organized by Brazil’s Quatro Rodas magazine with top marks for energy efficiency. Of all the cars with petrol engines, the speed up! was the most fuel-efficient, followed by the take up! and the Fox BlueMotion. The new Gol Comfortline with its 1.0 MPI engine and the Audi A1 Sport 1.4 TFSI also made it onto the list of most economical vehicles.
  • The Green Car of the Year Award is presented by U.S. specialist magazine Green Car Journal. In 2016, two models from the Volkswagen Group were nominated, including the Audi A3 E-TRON in the “Green Car of the Year” and “Connected Green Car of the Year” categories, and the Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid in the “Luxury Green Car of the Year” category.
  • Next Green Car Ltd. in the UK presents annual awards for the most environmentally friendly vehicles in 10 categories, after evaluating the vehicles’ environmental impact throughout their life cycles. In 2016, the VW e-up! was chosen as the winner in the “City Car” category thanks to its local emission output of 0 g and 93-mile range, which is ideal for city traffic.
  • The American Automobile Association publishes the AAA Green Car Guide, an annual assessment of environmentally friendly vehicles available on the U.S. market. Among the criteria applied are pollutant emissions and fuel consumption. In the 2016 ranking, the VW e-Golf was awarded the title of “Best in Class” in the compact car class.
  • In the competition organized by industry magazines Verkehrsrundschau and Trucker, the Volkswagen Caddy came out on top in the van category, receiving the “Green Van 2016” award. The Caddy delivered the best overall result based on fuel consumption, payload and load capacity. The EfficientLine 2 fuel-efficiency package for the MAN TGX was awarded the “Green Truck Innovation” accolade for its demonstrable reduction of emissions of atmospheric pollutants, greenhouse gases and noise pollution. Scania was presented with the “Green Truck Future Innovation 2016” environmental award for its hybrid module for delivery vehicles in the Promising Innovations category. The 235 kW (320 hp) hybrid truck achieves fuel savings of up to 18% compared with trucks that run solely on diesel. It can operate exclusively in all-electric mode, or as a hybrid running on pure biodiesel.
VW Golf TGI BlueMotion CNG – fuel consumption in kg/100 km: from 3.5 to 3.4 (combined); CO2 emissions in g/km: from 94 to 92 (combined); VW Golf TGI BlueMotion petrol – fuel consumption in kg/100 km: from 5.3 to 5.1 (combined); CO2 emissions in g/km: from 124 to 119 (combined); CO2 efficiency class: A+
Skoda Octavia GreenLine saloon (1.6 TDI) – fuel consumption in l/100 km: urban 3.9 / extra-urban 3.2 / combined 3.5; CO2 emissions in g/km: 90 (combined); CO2 efficiency class: A+
VW e-up! – energy consumption in kWh/100 km: 11.7 (combined); CO2 emissions in g/km: 0 (combined); CO2 efficiency class: A+