Volkswagen uses lifecycle assessments as an instrument for reducing a vehicle’s environmental impact. We evaluate vehicles, components and materials as part of these analyses, from the first design sketches through production and use, down to disposal, because a vehicle does not use energy and generate emissions in its usage phase alone. Since the environmental impact varies in the different phases of the lifecycle, we take a range of measures to make mobility as environmentally friendly as possible.
The lifecycle inventory is the first step in the assessment. We compile data for this on every material, component and step in the process. The data provides a picture of all of the emissions in the air, water and ground, and of the waste generated during the entire lifecycle. In addition, the lifecycle inventory indicates how much primary energy is used for the complete life of a car and the amount of emissions that are generated, such as CO2, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, or methane.
The potential environmental impact of a vehicle is estimated in the second step. The various material flows from production, usage and recycling are then allocated to the environmental impact categories – the greenhouse effect, summer smog, acidification, ozone depletion and overfertilization.
The final step is certification in accordance with the ISO EN 14040 standard. Volkswagen uses external experts, for example the German TÜV Nord inspection organization, to verify that it has acted in compliance with this standard; it presents the results of the lifecycle assessment transparently in the form of an environmental commendation. In the reporting period, for example, the new Golf was awarded such a commendation, which documents ecological progress compared with the previous model over the entire lifecycle.