At the GAM 2019, the author will once again make countermotions and give advice on solving problems the existence of which VW denies so far. Read more ›

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Volkswagen released its Sustainability Report 2018 12th of march 2019. The report refers to production-related environmental goals several times. Apparently Volkswagen continues to succeed in further reducing resource consumption and avoiding environmental pollution in the production process. This is very impressive: although VW has been highly active in this area for years, savings potentials are still being identified and realized. That is no small matter and should be recognized.

VW neglects Product-related environmental goals

Key terms and key concepts from the Environmental Principles Product, such as “non-regulated emissions” or “fuel consumption over the vehicle’s service life with the customer”, do not even appear in the sustainability report. Only some of these environmental principles are someway addressed.

On page 57, under the heading “CO₂ balance in the usage phase”, there are some revealing statements. Volkswagen reports its efforts to reduce fuel consumption in the driving cycle: „The Volkswagen Group’s new passenger car fleet in the EU (excluding Lamborghini and Bentley) emitted an average of 123 g CO₂/km in the reporting period – below the 2018 European limit of 130 g CO₂/km.“

Ten years ago, VW had the wisdom to differentiate between fuel consumption in the driving cycle and in real-life. Hence the environmental goal: „reduce fuel consumption in the driving cycle and over the vehicle’s service life with the customer“ (I’m writing here „the“ environmental goal, although one phrase obviously includes two independent goals.)

Results from driving cycle are considered now to be real-life

VW now assumes that the test results from the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) give a true picture of fuel consumption over the vehicle’s service life with the customer. VW now claims to give a valid representation of CO₂ balance during the usage phase based on data from the driving cycle. As if Prof. Winterkorn had been wrong when he set two distinct goals – to reduce fuel consumption both in real driving and in the driving cycle.

Volkswagen seems to have lost interest in the environmental impact of its products during their usage-phase. VW seems to be focussed on fulfilling legal requirements, although the Environmental Principles Products from 2008 seem to be still valid. They are mentioned in the sustainability report on page 54. But the report does not even mention the content of these Principles. Apparently VW does not want to report its supposed lack of progress regarding those Environmental Goals.

Of course, the fulfillment of legal requirements is indispensable. VW gives an example of progress regarding fuel consumption in the driving cycle on page 45. There VW describes a particularly fuel-efficient engine for the latest BlueMotion models: „[the Engine] has a special sailing function where the engine is switched off while the vehicle is coasting. Together with other technical innovations, this can improve fuel consumption by up to 1.0 l/100 km.“ This seems to be suitable to help meet the regulatory requirements for fleet consumption. But since Volkswagen does not care to look at consumption in customer operations, the actual benefit of this innovation in customer operations remains unknown.

Goals and report are not compatible

Another example of a measure with unknown benefit is mentioned on Page 10: “Driver training courses in fuel-efficient driving play an effective part in cutting fuel consumption and thus CO₂ emissions.” This brief remark may touch the environmental goal „support fuel-efficient styles of driving“. All the more surprising that no attempt is made to estimate the impact of these courses. VW does not even report the number of customers who took part in those training courses in 2018.

Anyway, it is unknown wether this measure is related to the environmental goal „support fuel-efficient styles of driving“, as VW can not explain this environmental goal. VW does not seem to know what the goal originally meant. So VW ignores both conceivable readings of this environmental goal:

On the one hand, VW does not seem to care wether its products tolerate fuel-efficient driving. Due to fuel-efficient driving the brakes may corrode and eventually fail. On the other hand, VW does not seem to care about the consumption in the customer’s operation. And VW does not care to what extent it is reduced by measures like the training mentioned above.

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Although officially VW environmental goal for 10 years, no person in charge can or wants to explain what is meant by “support fuel-efficient styles of driving”. Read more ›

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The Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Hans Dieter Pötsch, has called me around 17:20 with 3 minutes lead. Read more ›

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In April 2018 Volkswagen published the brochure “Ahead of the Time”, which is to inform about six decades of research and development at Volkswagen. Read more ›

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The Sustainability Report 2017, published March 2018, relates on several occasions to the environmental objectives of Volkswagen. But they aren’t given in an explicit manner.

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Volkswagen presents the study „VW do Brasil in the Brazilian Military Dictatorship 1964-1985“ by the external expert Christopher Kopper. To announce this release VW issues Media information 420/2017 which is entitled: Volkswagen comes to terms with its past in Brazil.

According to this Study VW board member Friedrich Schultz-Wenk was decidedly positive about the coup; even euphoric. (Page 20)

This study is highly relevant in many contexts. It is mentioned here as a context of the environmental goals of Volkswagen because of the Rio Cristalino-Project. At Rio Cristalino Volkswagen took an adventure that seems opposed to any kind of ethical rule and environmental objectives. Kopper concludes on page 114:

„Based on current knowledge, the transformation of savannah forest into pasture land on the VW fazenda in the Brazilian state of Pará was a serious ecological error which ultimately only brought VW financial losses. VW do Brasil indirectly shared a substantial portion of the responsibility for the exploitation of itinerant workers engaged on clearing operations. The fazenda’s management engaged exploitative employment agents with the knowledge and approval of the VW do Brasil management board. In doing so, it violated fundamental social standards, instead of employing the workers itself on acceptable terms.“

Last updated: October 31, 2018 at 15:44 pm

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The Media information NO. 333/2017 claims: “Volkswagen Group raises its environmental targets: 45 percent reduction in environmental impact by 2025”. Unfortunately it does not explain how to find either historic or current environmental targets.

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With the Sustainability Report 2016, Volkswagen has departed from the established, well-functioning approach of presenting reports as completed documents in PDF format. Instead, the visitor to the website is confronted with a confusing collection of html-based content. What VW reveals there is hard to overlook, and above all, not reliable to search.

Simple questions, such as the date of publication are initially difficult to clarify. Only by accident finally I did find a well-hidden download option that provided access to a PDF document at Date of publication: 10 May 2017. The link is dead now. Backup: vw-sr2016-en.pdf.

This report indicates that there exists both production related and product related environmental targets. The report is very specific on production related environmental targets: „In production, by 2018 we aim to reduce the five key environmental indicators – energy and water consumption, waste for disposal, and CO2 and VOC emissions – by 25% per manufactured vehicle compared with the 2010 baseline.“ (page 75)

Also on page 75 there is a product-related environmental goal mentioned: „Our Group targets state that all newly developed vehicles should improve on the environmental performance of predecessor models in every respect over the vehicle’s entire life cycle.“ And Page 74 tells „THE VOLKSWAGEN GROUP’S FUTURE PROGRAM, TOGETHER – STRATEGY 2025, REVEALS HOW VOLKSWAGEN PLANS TO EXCEL. :[…] we have defined the following targets:

  • To continuously reduce our carbon footprint
  • To continuously reduce our pollutant emissions
  • To continuously reduce our resource consumption“

That leaves many questions unanswered. For example, shall the vehicles be developed to support fuel-efficient driving?

And of course: Do the achieved results match the targets?

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It can not be deduced from the VW internet presence whether a Sustainability Report 2015 exists or existed. In May 2018, I thought I had found traces of it, with which I linked a post in german. The corresponding links did not work in August 2018 – or not anymore.

In August 2018, I received from VW by phone the following information: The Sustainability Report 2015 was published due to the diesel issue by about 6 months delayed. As a result, it was hardly possible to differentiate the content of the 2016 Sustainability Report. He is no longer online.

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