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Latest news: ESG in the automotive sector

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5 June 2024

Polestar reduces supply chain emissions on maritime freight

The Geely-owned Polestar EV brand says it is taking the next steps in reducing its supply chain emissions by integrating renewable fuels on its ocean freight routes. It says these account for around 75% of Polestar’s total transportation emissions. 

Polestar is now also operating its Vehicle Processing Centre (VPC) in Belgium on 100% renewable electricity. The VPC acts as a finishing and preparation point for vehicles before delivery to European customers, including charging them with renewable electricity. 

With Polestar 3 and Polestar 4 production now ramping up, renewable fuel will initially be used for approximately 65% of the outbound ocean freight of produced vehicles from Asia to Polestar’s VPC in Zeebrugge, Belgium. 

Polestar also plans to integrate renewable fuels on freight from North America during the second half of the year, as production of Polestar 3 expands to South Carolina. Through the utilisation of B30 Biofuel, which contains 30% Fatty Acid Methyl Esters (FAME), it says emissions from these shipping routes can be reduced by approximately 20-25%, compared with conventional Sulphur fuel oils. 

Polestar has taken steps to decarbonise inter-continental inbound ocean freight for production materials and spare parts distribution, which are now running on 100% FAME fuel, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 84% compared to fossil fuel. 

The FAME fuel is based on renewable sources, including waste cooking oil. No feedstock related to palm oil or palm oil production is used. 

Jonas Engström, Head of Operations at Polestar, says: “This is an important step in Polestar’s goal to reach climate neutrality by 2040. Becoming truly climate neutral means eliminating all greenhouse gas emissions across our operations, and all phases of our cars’ life cycles, including emissions from the supply chain. As we enter an accelerating phase of growth with our model line-up and manufacturing footprint expanding, there is an extra emphasis on the need for sustainable logistics solutions.” 

Polestar recently published its Sustainability Report for 2023. Greenhouse gas emissions per sold car were reduced by 9% during 2023 compared to 2022.

28 May 2024

CUPRA brand hails bio-composite material in seats

CUPRA, a subsidiary of Spanish car manufacturer Seat and a Volkswagen Group company, has developed fully natural-fibre seatbacks in its new Born VZ electric vehicle. 

It says the new material is developed from flax-based composites. 

The sporty brand also says the high-performance materials used for the Sabelt-manufactured CUP bucket seats can be seamlessly integrated into production while reducing emissions in half – lightening the vehicle to reduce energy demand, and offering end-of-life recyclability. 

The use of supplier Bcomp’s high-performance bio-composite materials provide the seat’s under-structure. CUPRA also says it significantly improves manufacturing by reducing both waste and processing time for the part. 

All top range CUPRA Born VZ are to have full natural-fibre front seats with Bcomp’s high-performance ‘ampliTex’. It is claimed Bcomp’s natural fibre materials enable a reduction of 49% of CO2 emissions in seats’ production compared to previous version. 

Per Mårtensson, Chief Revenue Officer at Bcomp, said: “Everyone involved from CUPRA, Sabelt and Bcomp showcased unparalleled agility to deliver a world’s first series high-performance natural fibre bucket seat within an extremely short timeframe, challenging standard automotive go-to-market timelines in favour of sustainability. We at Bcomp are happy to prove once again, that we can deliver quality competitive products for the large volume market that offer a much more sustainable solution to automotive interiors than standard materials.” 

Francesca Sangalli, Head of Colour & Trim Concept & Strategy at CUPRA, adds: “We’ve been researching the use of flax fibre for some time to integrate it in our car seats. We presented this project at the Unstoppable Impulse event in Terramar and are now happy to say that it’s been successfully implemented. We are changing the sporty aesthetics to incorporate a functional part made of flax fibre in the interior of a car.

24 May 2024

Mercedes-Benz aims for circular recycling through ‘urban mining’

In a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with TSR Recycling GmbH & Co. KG, Mercedes-Benz is aiming to substantially advance its circularity strategy in relation to end-of-life vehicles. 

The MoU relates to the recovery of secondary materials through so-called “urban mining”. With this pilot project Mercedes-Benz says it expects to gain a deeper understanding of the potential of post-consumer materials in Europe, focusing on steel, aluminium, polymers, copper and glass. 

The two companies plan to analyse the demand for and source of secondary materials and conduct a commercial evaluation. 

Markus Schäfer, Mercedes board member, said: “With our ‘Design for Circularity’ approach we consider circular economy right from the start. The goal is to decouple primary resource consumption from growth by keeping as many raw materials as possible in the cycle. 

“We expect this to reduce our use of primary resources in our new vehicle fleet by 40 percent by 2030 compared to a conventional approach. Together with our partners, we are working to increase the share of secondary raw materials in our vehicles and further improve process efficiency. We see great potential in urban mining as a cost-effective way to conserve valuable resources through the circular economy.”

The partners intend to develop activities that will provide access to material flows that would otherwise be exported to other sectors and countries. The aim is to avoid so-called downcycling, whereby recycled materials are subject to a loss of quality. An example is a planned cooperation with TSR and another Tier 1 supplier for recycled aluminium. This first-of-a-kind material has an 86-percent content of post-consumer recycled aluminium and reduces CO2 emissions by 73 percent. First press tests for prototype parts have been successful, Mercedes says.

Evaluation is ongoing and Mercedes-Benz says it want to put this new process into series production as soon as possible.

3 May 2024

Nissan and battery recycling firm Ecobat partner in UK

Nissan and Ecobat Solutions UK have partnered to explore how Nissan LEAF batteries can be located within the UK salvage network and safely recovered. 

The EV batteries will be repaired, recycled or repurposed to creation a sustainable circular energy economy, the company says. 

The Strategic Pilot Agreement combines Nissan’s battery expertise and Ecobat’s recycling knowledge. 

Nissan says it could also then offer those second life products to market with the added reassurance of an official manufacturer warranty. 

The project supports Nissan’s aim to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 across its operations and the lifecycle of its products. 

Alan Low, EV Battery Circular Economy Manager at Nissan Energy Services, said: “Nissan takes its obligations seriously and is keen to recover batteries in a good state of health from any LEAF batteries that are no longer required.” 

Once located, batteries are assessed and recovered to Ecobat’s Darlaston base, near Birmingham, using specialist vehicles. 

Tom Seward, EU Key Accounts Director (Northern & UK) at Ecobat Solutions UK Ltd, said: “This is a critical piece of the EV sustainability picture that has real environmental benefits. We even recover any energy stored in the salvaged battery and use it to provide power to the onsite EV charger network at our site.”

Since opening in 2021, Ecobat’s UK Diagnostic and Disassembly Centre has processed over 6,000 batteries and performance graded more than 14,000 modules.

This year, the company will open its third Li-Ion recycling facility in the UK, further increasing the amount of batteries that can be processed in the UK.