Life Cycle Management at Volkswagen

The aim of life cycle management initiatives in general and environmental management in particular at Volkswagen is to continuously improve the environmental performance of both the company itself and of the products. Consequently, the Environmental Strategy is based on four target areas: Top in intelligent mobility, leaders in eco-friendly products, top in lifecycle-based resource conservation, and consistent anchoring throughout the company (Fig. 23.1).

As leader in eco-friendly products Volkswagen is committed to reducing the CO2 output of the European new car fleet to emissions below the threshold of 120 g CO2/ km by 2015 and furthermore to 95 g CO2/km by 2020. Beyond and considering the lifecycle-based approach regarding resource conservation, a holistic view on the full lifecycle of the products is considered. This means that not only environmental issues relating to products are addressed, but the minimization of environmental

Fig. 23.1 Volkswagen Group environmental strategy (Source Volkswagen AG 2013)

impacts along the whole value chain is considered. The goal is to create products that have better environmental properties over their entire lifecycle in comparison to their predecessors. The tool chosen by Volkswagen to implement this approach is life cycle assessment (LCA) in line with ISO standards 14040 and 14044 (ISO 14040: 2006, ISO 14044: 2006).

Life Cycle Assessment as a Tool to Implement Life Cycle Management at Volkswagen

The LCA is one of the LCM tools used by organization to understand the consequences of their business operations. The LCA methodology was first developed 30 years ago, and since then the technique has been practiced in many different product fields. Early on, Volkswagen was engaged in this process and performed LCAs aimed at optimizing products and processes ever since the early 1990s. As early as 1996, the company was the first carmaker to prepare and publish a life cycle inventory (LCI) for the Golf III (Schweimer and Schuckert 1996). In the following years, LCIs were published for various vehicles of the Volkswagen Group (e.g., Schweimer and Levin 2000).

Conducting LCAs at Volkswagen means to collect all the important facts over the entire life cycle of a vehicle, component, or technology and back them up with relevant figures, e.g., the volume of raw materials, energy for production processes. The data collection process is based on vehicle parts lists, material and weight information stored in the company's own Material Information System (MISS), technical datasheets and drawings. For modeling the use phase, fuel consumption and the resultant emissions are worked out based on the legally prescribed New European Driving Cycle (NEDC). In addition, the amount of energy consumed during the dismantling and/or recycling of the vehicle parts is calculated.

Since 2007 the Volkswagen brand consequently publishes Environmental Commendations which inform customers and the general public about the ecological progress at life cycle level made by new models in comparison to their predecessor. These comparisons are based on detailed LCA studies which are certified by independent auditors in accordance to 14040 (ISO 2006a) and 14044 (ISO 2006b). By the end of 2013, Volkswagen Passenger Cars and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles had published a total of 18 Environmental Commendations.

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