Sustainability has become a growing concern for all manufacturing sectors. The auto industry has had to shift focus to adapt to this trend.
Over the past few years, sustainability and ‘green’ practices have become major talking points for auto manufacturers around the globe. Consumer behavior is increasingly moving towards an environmentally conscious standpoint, and the automotive sector has to adapt quickly and efficiently. As a result, sustainable practices are becoming increasingly common in the world of vehicle production.
But how are auto manufacturers greening their processes? Well, there are a number of key practices they’re implementing to achieve sustainable operations.
First, they are finding new ways to recycle and extend the lifespans of everyday parts and products. They are developing light-weight vehicles with superior fuel efficiency—not to mention powerful electric vehicles as well.
Let’s take a closer look at the role of sustainability in auto manufacturing today.
Understanding Sustainable Manufacturing
To understand the role of sustainable manufacturing in the auto industry, we first need to understand what it entails. Essentially, sustainable or ‘green’ auto manufacturing aims to minimize production waste and the environmental impact of vehicle production. This is typically achieved by adapting product designs, manufacturing processes, and work-flow principles to more environmentally friendly standards.
The benefits of this approach are myriad. Sustainable auto manufacturers often enjoy boosted brand value and more market opportunities as a result of their choices. Their reduced levels of wastage and reusing of materials can lower their expenses.
Manufacturers that use environmentally sustainable products and protocols are not as burdened with regulatory obstacles or legal challenges related to environmental pollution. As investors move away from environmentally harmful companies and fossil fuel-based enterprises, manufacturers will be able to move with the times, and adapt more easily to necessary industry changes.
Achieving Sustainable Principles
Sustainable practices are implemented in the automotive industry by scrutinizing the manufacturing process meticulously, from start to finish. By doing this, companies can identify major points of energy loss, and wastage, and work to address them by making them more efficient. This can reduce their operating costs, and the amount of waste they produce.
A brilliant example of auto sustainability is Ford, a company who has been greening its practices since the 1920s. Way back when the famed car company created several parts using ‘Fordite’, a compound material comprised of rubber, silica, wheat straw, and other additives. The firm’s aim was to lower its wood consumption, and in line with this goal, it developed a soy-based oil to use in its vehicle enamels.
Even today, Ford is pioneering the use of sustainable materials and manufacturing protocols in the vehicle sector. They create many of their materials from food industry waste; they boast nine sustainable materials in total in their vehicle production lines.
Another important trend in sustainable auto manufacturing involves reducing the curb weight of vehicles.
Many notable brands are now reducing the weight of their cars and trucks, which can lead to a significant reduction in their fuel consumption. Most vehicles on the road today are made of steel and aluminum, but the demand for lightweight composites is expected to soar.
These composites could cut costs in the manufacturing process, leading to reduced car prices, and more affordable insurance coverage. This knock-on effect could increase car manufacturers’ turnover substantially, as demand will skyrocket.
They may once have been the stuff of Victorian legends, but electric cars are here to stay. Analysts predict that within two decades, over 50% of all passenger vehicles will be electric.
It’s true that there are current concerns about the environmental effects of sourcing batteries and charging them using power generated by fossil fuel burning. However, companies like Tesla are constantly innovating more efficient and greener electric car batteries that hold charges for longer distances.
As battery capacity and sustainability increases, the consumer demand for rechargeable cars is expected to increase rapidly on a global scale.
The Bottom Line
The climate crisis is no longer up for debate: it’s a scientific fact, and one that every industry on the planet needs to adapt to.
Auto manufacturers cannot afford to ignore the carbon emissions and waste generated by their manufacturing practices. The automotive industry is one of the most polluting industries in existence, after all.
Instead of turning a blind eye, analysts highly recommend accepting the facts and innovating lasting changes to vehicle production processes. There are many modern technologies, like artificial intelligence, and generative design, that can assist companies and manufacturers in streamlining and improving their operations.
There are many benefits to incentivize them, including reduced operational costs, improved brand images, and less legal hassles. Opting for a sustainable approach could also give them an edge against their less progressive competitors, as the demand for green transportation options continues to grow.