What does maximum sustainability look like in the automobile industry? What fuel and propulsion methods should you use? What raw materials should you pursue? Where should you manufacture?
These big decisions will set corporate direction for years. They must properly analyse the full life cycle impact of any choice, whilst also considering systems outside of their control, from land, to energy infrastructure, to competition from other industries.
To take a top-level example, what is the most sustainable vehicle propulsion method – Electric, Hydrogen and E-fuels? We need to understand the full life cycle – by performing an integrative Life Cycle Assessment – in order to reliably make the comparison.
So we would need to look at the original fuel (eg energy mix of grid, power source for an electrolyser, or biomass) and its emissions profile. Then we’d need to look at the energy efficiency of each step between the energy inputs and the vehicle’s propulsion. Then you can compare how much of each you need to produce the same amount of propulsion.
We must also look at the inputs of creating the propulsion system itself – such as battery or engine components and materials.
Maximum Automobile Sustainability: More Variables
We can then combine these to work out the most sustainable option. Maximum sustainability will need to address the fuel, the vehicle design and the energy systems that power it. The results will of course vary in different scenarios.
Making good decisions needs highly sophisticated system-of-systems modeling, combining your own engineering and supply chain models with climate, energy, demographic and macroeconomic models.
In our new whitepaper offer an introduction to planning strategic decisions for a sustainable transition, and provide top level worked examples of propulsion and battery choices, alongside some initial answers.
Guest Author: Klaus Feldmann is CTO for automotive sustainability and e-mobility at Capgemini Engineering. Read more Capgemini blogs here. More: Read all guest blogs here.