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VDA - Verband der Automobilindustrie

German automobiles stand for premium quality, efficiency and environmental protection

Innovative sustainability in automobile construction for safeguarding the future

Subsequent generations also have the right to economic development, social well-being and an intact environment. The German automotive industry takes on this responsibility by making its contribution and simultaneously ensuring sustainable mobility for everyone in the future.

German automobiles are known worldwide for being modern, safe, comfortable, ecological, and of premium quality. In light of climate changes, the challenge of our times is to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. The German automotive industry takes this strategic task seriously and is the leader in this field. For example, it has lowered the average fuel consumption by more than one fourth since 1990. Today, a new car from a German manufacturer drives an average of 15 kilometers per liter of fuel, two thirds more than in 1970. German manufacturers currently offer 80 models under 5 l/100 km and 336 models under 6.5 l/100 km. Due to this technical progress, German automobile manufacturers have also achieved a trend reversal in road traffic CO2 emissions: These emissions in Germany have been on the decline since 1999.

"CO2 Champions" are becoming the standard

This development has continued in the current year. The CO2 emissions of newly registered cars of German make sank domestically in the first nine months of this year by an above-average 3.1 percent, while imports showed a reduction of only 2.6 percent. The CO2 value of German models is thus only 2g/km over the average value despite the high percentage of premium vehicles in the new fleet of cars. Differentiated according to individual sectors, the greatest savings were achieved in the mid-sized (-4.5 percent) and small car divisions (-3.2 percent). This can mainly be attributed to the 5 and 7 percent reduction made by German suppliers. German manufacturers were able to achieve an above-average reduction in most of the other sectors as well and are clearly the market leader in the "CO2 Champions" under 130 g/km with a market share of 57 percent.

The success of the German automotive industry achieved thus far in reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions can mainly be attributed to diesel. A modern diesel motor uses an average of 25 percent less fuel than a comparable gasoline motor and thus emits clearly less CO2. This is what makes diesel indispensable in the future. More diesels on the market mean less CO2. Germany would save 90 million liters of fuel and 210 tons of CO2 per year for every additional percentage of diesels in the inventory.

Oil saving - supplement – replacement

Our long-term technological efficiency roadmap "Away from Oil" follows a multifaceted strategy. We focus on the triad saving, supplement and replacement: saving through improvements in the traditional combustion engine and auto body, supplement through increasing the percentage of alternative fuels and replacement by alternative engines like electric vehicles and hydrogen technology.

In the foreground of our strategy of saving, supplementing and replacing fossil fuels is the pursuit of even cleaner, more efficient, safer and more comfortable automobiles. This is achieved not only by advances in drive engineering, electronics and safety technology but also comprehensive mobility concepts including an improved infrastructure. Environmental protection and especially climate control have become the most far-reaching and ambitious projects of the German automotive industry.

Eighteen billion euros for research and development

These highly ambitious goals can only be achieved with considerable investments. No other branch invests as much in research and development (R&D) as the German automobile industry. With more than 18 billion euros, it finances about 36 percent of all research and development of the metalworking industry in Germany. More than 91,000 employees research and develop in the competence centers of our manufacturers and suppliers. Thus, the number of employees in research and development has about doubled in just under a decade. The German automotive industry registers an average of 10 patents a day, about half of them in the area of environmental technology.

The German automotive industry is continuously active with regard to its future development. It is now imperative to find the right instruments with which to ensure the further decoupling of transport and CO2 emissions not only in the European but also in the national context. This, however, is not enough. In addition to the vehicle-sided measures, politics must now play a crucial role in stimulating additional CO2 reduction. This includes the conversion of vehicle CO2-based taxation, which gives the consumer planning reliability and promotes stock renewal.

Rejuvenation of the automobile stock immensely reduces CO2

The average age of existing cars in Germany is 8.5 years and is thus higher than ever before. An urgently needed renewal of the stock would considerably contribute to climate protection – 800 million liters of fuel could be saved, if the stock of existing cars were one year younger. This corresponds to 2 million tons of CO2. Anyone who chooses a new car and no longer drives the old one actively contributes to climate protection.

The German automotive industry takes its responsibilities seriously and intensively works on further fuel-reduction technologies. However, in order to use all possible reductions, the road traffic infrastructure has to be adjusted and improved. Twenty percent of fuel consumption is wasted in traffic jams and stop-and-go traffic. About 12 billion liters of fuel and about 30 million tons of CO2 could be saved each year if traffic were not obstructed.

The German automotive industry meets its responsibilities and also stands for future economic performance, social responsibility and efficient, ecological progress.

First publication: 17.12.2008