Audi keeps a close eye on environmental factors even during the development of vehicles. The Company will prepare life cycle assessments (LCAs) for all new model series and publish them at the respective market launch. The LCA assesses all phases of the life cycle – development and production, recycling and the most important factor, the operating phase.
This environmental footprint, also known as an eco-balance or LCA, analyzes the environmental effects of a product over the course of its entire life cycle. It serves to quantitatively assess such environmental aspects as greenhouse gas emissions (including CO2), energy consumption and the potential for acidification and summer smog. In generating its life cycle assessments, Audi applies a standardized process that conforms to the international ISO 14040 series of standards.
Today, the general public is evaluating cars very critically based on their fuel economy. Audi is taking an even longer view and is no longer simply concerned with CO2 emissions that escape from the exhaust system while driving. Instead all aspects are being considered, i.e. not just the operating phase but also the extraction of the raw materials, the production and assembly of the individual parts, the energy flow in the production plants and recycling.
The customer use phase is crucial to the environmental footprint of a vehicle, since about 80 percent of emissions occur in this phase. This is where Audi’s strengths play a crucial role – in ultra-lightweight design, efficient drive systems and, in the near future, renewable fuels. With the new Audi A3, greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced by up to nine percent compared with the previous model based on a total of 200,000 km (124,274 miles) driven.
The weight of the Audi A6 was trimmed by up to 80 kg (176.37 lb) – its body consists of over 20 percent aluminum. Although production of this lightweight material requires a higher energy input than steel sheet, improved fuel economy and the efficient engines more than compensate for this effect after just a low number of miles driven. In the A6 3.0 TDI quattro with S tronic, the bottom line on greenhouse gas emissions is a 13 percent reduction, which represents a seven metric ton reduction in CO2 equivalents.