Audi is going green. The German luxury automaker’s third manufacturing plant has just begun net carbon-neutral vehicle production. Announced on Wednesday, the Audi factory in Ingolstadt achieved this important milestone back on Jan. 1, 2024. This facility follows in the tire tracks of the firm’s Brussels, Belgium and Győr, Hungary plants that have been doing the same since 2018 and 2020, respectively.
Beyond all this, the four-ring brand is aiming to hit net carbon neutrality at all of its facilities around the world by the year 2025. This is a cornerstone of the company’s Mission: Zero environmental program, which also focuses on topics like protecting the environment and biodiversity, using resources more efficiently and closely monitoring water usage.
“Protecting the environment as best as possible is firmly anchored in Audi’s corporate strategy,” said Gerd Walker, Audi Board Member for Production and Logistics in a media release. “By transitioning the Ingolstadt site to renewable energies, we are taking a major step toward our goal of net carbon-neutral vehicle production.”
Achieving this is no easy task. Accordingly, Audi took a multi-pronged approach. For starters, they focused on improving energy efficiency. The automaker created its own energy analytics software platform to help analyze large quantities of data to find areas where efficiency could be improved. This helped reduce the Ingolstadt factory’s electricity consumption by a whopping 35,000 megawatt-hours in 2022, which eliminated more than 5,000 tons of carbon emissions.
Another major factor in going carbon neutral is that Audi generates its own renewable energy. This facility has nearly 250,000 square feet (more than 23,000 square meters) of solar panels, and the company plans to increase that figure to more than 441,000 square feet (around 41,000 square meters). Audi is also working on producing carbon-neutral thermal energy by capturing waste heat that’s generated during vehicle production.
Further down the list, renewable energy is also purchased, something Audi has been doing at its Ingolstadt plant since early 2012. “A neighboring refinery and the municipal waste recycling plant supply the main plant with net carbon-neutral waste heat,” explained Dr. Rüdiger Recknagel, head of environmental protection for the Audi Group. “Additionally, we have secured large quantities of biogas to ensure a net carbon-neutral heat supply.”
And finally, if all else fails, carbon emissions from the facility can be offset by carbon credits. This is kind of an easy out compared to the other steps listed above, so the company will do this only up to 10% of the factory’s original emissions.
Going green is no small task, but Audi is proving it can be done. All vehicles assembled in Ingolstadt, including the upcoming, all-electric Q6 E-Tron family will be net carbon neutral.