The automotive industry has shifted in recent years to more “green” production and materials, due to the environmental concerns and impacts of prior manufacturing methods. All industries should attempt to reduce their environmental impact in some way or another.
One of the most significant environmental initiatives in the automotive industry is the push towards electric and hybrid vehicles. I’m not entirely convinced this is a long term fix or solution. These vehicles emit significantly fewer greenhouse gases compared to traditional gasoline-powered vehicles- but production of the batteries and components just “shift” the pollution or environmental impact elsewhere in the world. In recent years, many automakers have launched electric and hybrid vehicle models, and several governments around the world have provided incentives for people to buy these vehicles.
Many automakers are exploring the use of sustainable materials such as recycled plastic, bamboo, and natural fibers in vehicle manufacturing. These materials are renewable, biodegradable, and require less energy to produce, making them a more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional materials. BMW for example has used bamboo for interior trim on the #i3, and soy based plastics for years now.
The automotive industry is actively seeking renewable energy sources for their manufacturing processes. For instance, some factories are now powered by solar or wind energy. But how far can a manufacturer go to reduce their pollution using these types of technologies?
Furthermore, automakers are taking steps to reduce the environmental impact of their supply chains by collaborating with suppliers to reduce their carbon footprint and promote sustainable sourcing practices. The concept of bigger container ships is one way to reduce shipping costs. Ironically, some are being fitted with large sails in the front of them to reduce fuel consumption.
While I believe this is something that will still be years down the road; autonomous driving and delivery of services will be something that’ll reduce manufacturer pollution (imagine having a robot deliver parts on the factory production line, or a semi truck driving vs a human delivering parts to a warehouse).
While the automotive industry has made notable progress towards reducing its environmental impact, there remains much to be done. It is imperative that automakers continue to explore new approaches and work together to curb the effects of climate change and build a more sustainable future.
CEO – ABR Houston