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How Can Car Manufacturers Make Their Vehicles More Sustainable?

In 2012, the number of cars produced was just over 63 million. Just two years later this number has jumped to 87 million. Working with this scale of production requires a substantial investment of energy in and of itself, without also taking into account that exhaust emissions from these vehicles are one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gases and climate change.

Improving Manufacturing Conditions

If car makers are serious about making their vehicles more sustainable, they must first consider how they can improve their manufacturing conditions. Unfortunately, traditional car manufacturing generally relies on mass production and low unit costs, with little emphasis on sustainability. The BMW Group is currently the industry leader in this regard, topping the DJSI as the world’s most sustainable automotive manufacturer every year since 2005.

In fact, 100% of the power used to create the BMW i3 and i8 models at the Leipzig is obtained from renewable energy sources. Likewise, the company recently set up its own carbon fiber manufacturing plant in Moses Lake, USA, so it can take advantage of the Grand Coulee Dam, one of the world's largest hydroelectric power plants.

Considering Alternative Fuel Solutions

More and more manufacturers are now offering plug-in electric vehicles in their range. There is a growing public consensus that alternative fuel solutions like these are the future, with the only drawback being the limited mileage and public charging stations. Over time, though, we can expect this to change. Ontario, Canada, recently pledged to invest $20 million in a network of battery-powered charging stations as part of a new $325 million green initiative.

Solar power is another possible alternative that we already see in the manufacturing sector. Like electric-powered vehicles, though, solar power has its limitations. Since the amount of energy a solar panel can draw is directly related to its size, this limits the kind of vehicles manufacturers can produce. According to AA Cars, Ford are currently working with third-parties to develop a prototype vehicle that uses solar energy to charge its battery.

With the number of vehicles on the road today standing at an estimated 1.2 billion, and expected to reach 2 billion by 2035, car makers are now producing more vehicles than any other point in history. If we are to satisfy this demand responsibly, however, manufacturers need to be prepared to make large-scale changes and invest in the future.


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