Spearheading electric mobility
In the new Audi e-tron GT, sportiness and comfort go hand in hand with sustainability. At up to 472 kilometers, the e-tron GT’s maximum range is every bit as outstanding as its driving performance. The high-voltage battery has 396 pouch cells with a net capacity of 84 kWh (93 kWh gross). Its 800-volt architecture enables DC fast charging at a maximum of 270 kW. Under ideal conditions, it takes just five minutes to store enough power for around 100 kilometers.
Ingeniously, the e-tron GT’s thermal management keeps the battery and drive components at their optimum temperature levels. When a driver sets a fast-charging station as their destination in the navigation system, on the way there, the car brings the battery to a temperature at which it can be charged as fast as possible. In winter in particular, the heat pump (fitted as standard) helps to offset the loss of range due to the electric air condition.
The car rolls off the Böllinger Höfe production line on Audi’s Neckarsulm site; the entire manufacturing process is net carbon-neutral. The Neckarsulm site has been using 100 % green electricity since early 2020, with a biogas-fired combined heat and power (CHP) plant providing the heat required by the Böllinger Höfe facility. To compensate for CO₂ emissions that cannot currently be avoided using renewable energies, Audi purchases high-quality carbon offsets.
Audi RS e-tron GT - combined power consumption in kWh/100 km: 20.2 - 19.3 (NEDC), 22.5 – 20.6 (WLTP); CO₂ emissions in g/km: 0; efficiency class: A+
Audi e-tron GT quattro - combined power consumption in kWh/100 km: 19.6 - 18.8 (NEDC), 21.6 – 19.9 (WLTP); CO₂ emissions in g/km: 0; efficiency class: A+
Carbon-neutral production in Brussels
The world’s first certified carbon-neutral, high-volume production plant in the premium automotive segment is based here in Brussels, Belgium.
At the Audi plant, all production processes and any other emissions produced by the facility are either covered by renewable energy (around 95 %) or offset by environmental projects (the remaining five percent). Audi was awarded carbon-neutral certification by Belgian testing company Vinçotte.
Audi’s carbon-neutral manufacturing operation in Brussels is based on three key elements. First, the company’s own rooftop photovoltaic system, which generates green electricity. Second, to supply the factory with heat – including office heating – Audi uses renewable energy, with appropriate biogas certificates. These two elements alone cover 95 % of Audi’s on-site energy demand, reducing annual CO₂ emissions by roughly 40,000 metric tonnes. The third key element? Audi offsets any unavoidable CO₂ emissions – produced by company vehicles, for example – by investing in carbon credit projects.
Audi Hungaria achieves carbon-neutrality
Audi’s Hungarian site in Győr is taking three different approaches to carbon-neutrality. The first involves switching over to renewable energy. Audi now operates Europe’s largest roof-mounted photovoltaic facility, covering 160,000 m² – the plant’s 36,400 solar cells generate a peak output of 12 megawatts. The second approach involves sourcing geothermal energy from the site’s own geothermal plant, which meets around 70 % of the company’s heating needs. The facility supplies at least 82,000 megawatt-hours of thermal energy per year. Since it was commissioned in 2015, the company has used 250 gigawatt-hours of geothermal energy, cutting CO₂ emissions by 50,000 metric tonnes. The rest of its heating requirements are met by natural gas, backed by biogas certificates to ensure net carbon neutrality. Audi Hungaria uses certified carbon credits to offset the currently unavoidable 5 % of CO₂ emissions generated at engine test benches and elsewhere.
Closing the circle: Audi’s aluminum recycling
Aluminum is an important lightweight construction material used in automotive manufacturing. There are disadvantages, however – aluminum production is energy-intensive and consumes natural resources. This is where Audi’s innovative Aluminum Closed Loop recycling concept comes in.
With this concept, aluminum sheet offcuts from the press shop are sent straight back to the supplier, who recycles them into aluminum sheets of the same quality. Audi then uses the recycled sheets in production, avoiding the energy-intensive production of new aluminum. The recycling rate is practically 100 percent, and the process uses up to 95 percent less energy than is required to produce primary aluminum. In 2020, Audi was able to remove 165,000 metric tonnes of CO₂ emissions from its carbon footprint as a result of this closed-loop system, and has reduced CO₂ emissions by a total of 525,000 metric tonnes since the system was first introduced in 2017. The Aluminum Closed Loop system has been implemented in Audi’s press shops in Neckarsulm and Ingolstadt in Germany, and is due to be rolled out to more locations.
The Aluminum Closed Loop system is part of Audi’s supply-chain CO₂ program, which aims to reduce CO₂ emissions from the production of parts used in Audi vehicles at the point of manufacture. Specific opportunities to reduce CO₂ emissions include setting up closed-loop material cycles (like the one for aluminum), gradually increasing the proportion of secondary materials, and using green power. New guidelines support Audi’s procurement processes by promoting the use of renewable energy sources and requiring Audi partner companies to use green electricity only. The Audi program minimizes negative impacts in areas where they cannot be avoided completely, and achieves positive impacts wherever possible. By 2025, these measures are predicted to result in savings of around 1.2 metric tonnes of CO₂ per car.
Green computing power
Tourists adore the mystic splendor of the landscape. Climate activists, on the other hand, are more interested in the thunderous power of the many waterfalls that pour into the valley in which the small Norwegian town of Rjukan is situated. Here, six hydroelectric power plants, one above ground and five subterranean ones in the mountains, generate green electricity from hydropower around the clock. Five percent of Norway’s total energy output is produced in the Rjukan valley.
This is where IT specialist Green Mountain has set up a data center running entirely on hydroelectric power, which means the servers in the Green Mountain facilities operate on a carbon-neutral basis. Volkswagen and Audi also use the maximum output of these high-performance servers – which at full load consume up to 2.75 megawatts of electricity – for vehicle development projects such as simulated crash tests and virtual wind tunnel testing. While such computing processes are not necessarily time-critical, they are certainly time-consuming. Outsourcing these high-performance computing (HPC) projects reduces the workload on the VW Group’s own data centers, which are primarily used for standard business applications. And it reduces CO2 emissions: Compared with a conventionally operated data center, the facility in Rjukan saves more than 5,800 metric tonnes of CO₂ per year.
The Group is also already operating a carbon-neutral data center in Reykjanesbær, Iceland, which saves around 6,200 metric tonnes of CO₂ annually.
Orca, the CO₂ hunter
Cutting CO₂ emissions is a good thing, but is it enough to halt climate change? Shouldn’t we be actively trying to lower the amount of CO₂ in the atmosphere? Direct air capture technology does exactly that, filtering more than 90 percent of CO₂ out of the air. The CO₂ is either recycled for use as a raw material or removed from the atmosphere permanently using natural storage methods. Climeworks, a Swiss direct air capture pioneer, already operates 14 of these filter facilities. And Audi has been supporting them since 2013 by providing technical expertise. Climeworks’ newest project, called Orca, is the world’s biggest climate-positive facility and is currently under construction in Iceland.
How it works: The plant draws in air and sends it to a CO₂ collector. Here, a filter fitted with a special adsorbent material captures the CO₂ from the air and the temperature is then increased to 100° Celsius using the waste heat from a nearby geothermal power plant. The heat releases the CO2 molecules. Water from the Hellisheiði power plant is then channeled through the facility, carrying the CO2 deep underground. Through natural mineralization processes, the CO2 molecules react with the basalt and turn into rock, ensuring the CO₂ stays permanently underground. The facility will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week and will filter 4,000 metric tonnes of CO2 out of the atmosphere each year. To capture this amount of CO₂ naturally you would need 80,000 trees. Audi is financing the capture of 1,000 metric tonnes.