Reducing fuel consumption and the associated reduction of emissions are important measures for improving the environmental credentials of our vehicles. However, these alone 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 raw materials for the vehicle must also be produced, and materials and components manufactured – and this long before the wheels of a new car turn for the first time.
To be able to reduce the environmental impact of a vehicle to a minimum, the entire product lifecycle is considered when vehicles are developed. This means that the assessment of the potential environmental impacts of new vehicles, components and materials begins before they are even produced: effectively from the first idea and design sketches, through production and the subsequent usage phase, down to disposal. Volkswagen uses the environmental impact study – or lifecycle assessment – in accordance with ISO
standards 14040 and 14044 as a tool for this. Using environmental impact studies, we determine where improvements have the greatest effect and develop targeted innovations accordingly. We call this approach lifecycle engineering.
The Volkswagen brand publishes environmental ratings to inform its customers, shareholders and stakeholders about its success stories in environmentally responsible vehicle development and lifecycle assessments. Environmental ratings for new vehicle models demonstrate ecological advancements in direct comparison with the predecessor model. For the communication to be credible, it is important that the results and evaluations in the environmental impact studies 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.