Fleet News

Manufacturers take action to cut emissions

As fleet managers begin to think more about the efficiency and environmental impact of their vehicles, manufacturers have started to give more thought to the “well-to-wheel” emissions of the cars they produce.

UK car plants turn out hundreds of thousands of units every year and generate a huge amount of waste and CO2. To cut “well-to-wheel” impact manufacturers have had to get clever.

Whether using intelligent robots to increase efficiency, building on-site recycling and energy facilities or simply cutting down on packaging and transport, car makers have been exploring a range of innovative methods to slash manufacturing waste.

Fleet News has taken a look at what they’re up to:


  • Two large wind turbines at Ford’s Dagenham plant provide 100% of the electricity needed for manufacturing.
  • A third turbine is due in 2009.
  • Dagenham’s East London headquarters uses a wind turbine, rainwater collection (for car washing) and recycles waste engine oil to help cut back on emissions and waste.
  • Ford’s Bridgend engine plant is powered by 26 solar panels, which produce more than 100,000kW of electricity every year.


  • Honda’s Swindon based car and engine plant has a number of targets and monitoring schemes in place to cut its paint emissions and other harmful emissions waste.
  • Paint emissions are currently 60% lower than the legal manufacturing limit.
  • The Swindon plant has its own on-site water treatment centre, allowing water used in the painting and manufacturing process to be recycled.
  • Through better processes and regular monitoring Honda has cut its landfill waste by 65kg per car over the past 10 years.


  • Nissan’s Sunderland plant has reduced the bulk of its core materials, cutting down on the amount of steel and paint used in the manufacturing process.
  • New delivery systems have reduced the number of containers needed for paint and other chemicals, helping cut waste and transport costs.
  • The Sunderland plant has its own wind farm made up of eight wind turbines, soon to rise to 10, generating nearly 8 million kW of electricity.
  • Nissan UK has cut overall energy used in the manufacturing process by 9% in the past five years, which equates to a 17% reduction in CO2 emissions for every car produced.



  • The company has achieved zero landfill waste at its Burn-aston plant by implementing a streamlined waste monitoring programme and recycling all its packaging and ancillary equipment.
  • Overall energy has been cut by more than 70% per vehicle in past 15 years.
  • Paint residue and other emissions have been cut by 70% by using more efficient, intelligent robots.
  • Water use has been cut by more than 75% per vehicle and all waste water is treated on-site at Burnaston.



  • GM has reduced energy per vehicle by 33% at its Luton plant and 49% at its Ellesmere Port site between 2002 and 2006 thanks to weekly monitoring.
  • The use of more intelligent machines has meant that the plants have been able to cut back on light and heating facilities.
  • More than 70% of Luton’s waste is recycled, which is set to rise with the installation of an on-site recycling centre. The Ellesmere site recycles 95% of its waste materials.
  • CO2 output has been cut by more than 20% at Luton in the past six years.


Land Rover

  • All Land Rover sites have been certified to ISO14001 – an international environment management standard – since 1998.
  • For each vehicle produced since 2002, energy use has been cut by 19%, water use by 14% and total waste by 20%.
  • Energy use at Land Rover’s Gaydon plant in Warwickshire has been reduced by 11% since 2002, thanks to energy-efficient equipment.
  • At Solihull, an on-site com-bined heat and power (CHP) plant has been installed. This reduced CO2 emissions by 5,300 tonnes last year.
  • Around 40% of finished Freelander 2 vehicles leave the Halewood plant in Merseyside by rail rather than by road.
  • Land Rover offsets all its manufacturing assembly CO2 emissions.


  • An energy efficiency project at Mercedes-Benz’s Untertürkheim plant in Germany last year cut electricity consumption by 51,700 megawatt-hours and heat consumption by 130,200 megawatt-hours, compared to 2005.
  • At Smartville (Smart’s plant in the French town of Hambach), transport is kept to a minimum as system partners, located on site, supply partly pre-fabricated modules straight to the assembly line. In some cases they fit their prefabricated modules in the Smart themselves.
  • Roof water at Smartville is routed to storage reservoirs for use as fire-fighting water. All other surface waste water is fed through oil separators, treated in storage reservoirs and used.
  • Energy consumption fell by 12.5 million kilowatt-hours of electricity and 16 million kilowatt-hours of natural gas last year at Mercedes-Benz’s plant at Rastatt, Germany. This was achieved by measures such as precise temperature controls and a new ventilation system to heat recovery in the plant’s paint shop.



BMW Hams Hall

  • At BMW Plant Hams Hall the electricity used per engine built has been reduced by 19% and gas by 25%. This is due to measures such as replacing 70-watt lamps with 23-watt lamps and installing movement sensors so that lights go off automatically.
  • A new paint technology at MINI Plant Oxford has cut emissions by 10%.
  • Deliveries to MINI Plant Swindon are made in returnable metal pallets to reduce packag-ing waste.
  • Plant Swindon reused more than 680 tonnes of steel in the third quarter of 2007. Manufacturing the same amount of steel would have released 1,800 additional tonnes of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.
  • To cut transport emissions, 60% of purchasing for MINI is from UK-based suppliers.
  • From autumn last year, 116,000 tonnes of steel (80% of Plant Swindon’s total annual steel consumption) started to arrive at the warehouse by rail – a saving of 5,300 truck movements each year.
  • After a complete review of water-using processes, water consumption per MINI produced decreased by 35% between 2003 and 2007.


  • During the past 10 years, environmental management practices at Renault production sites have led to 25% less energy being consumed, 61% less water being consumed, 64% less waste being generated and 47% less toxic waste being discharged into waterways.
  • All Renault production sites are ISO 14001-certified.

Volkswagen Group

  • The amount of water the group needs to build one vehicle has been reduced from 6.9m_ in 2002 to 5.5m_ in 2006 thanks to a programme of measures.
  • Two hundred and forty ‘energy officers’ throughout the group have the task of helping to cut down on avoidable energy consumption, such as unnecessary use of lighting and air-conditioning systems. Between 2005 and 2006, the energy officers brought energy savings of 4.9million kWh of electricity on the assembly lines at the Volkswagen Wolfsburg plant in Germany.
  • Across the group, the quantity of materials transported relative to the number of vehicles produced is being reduced. Vehicle production increased by 11.1% between 2004 and 2006, but the quantity of material transported increased by only 5.1%.
  • Volkswagen’s Emden plant in Germany has on-site wind generators which produce 4.5 megawatts of electrical power.
  • Recycling has increased from 21% to 67% at the Emden plant.
  • Paint consumption has been cut by 30% and solvent emissions by 50% at the Emden plant due to investments in facilities and process improvements.
  • Audi’s Ingolstadt plant in Germany has five stormwater retention basins. The water is treated and fed into the process water system.
  • The paintshop at the Volks-wagen plant in Bratislava, Slovakia, went over to an improved system for the use of rinsing agents in its process baths. The rinsing agents can now be recycled, resulting in a 95% reduction in rinsing agent consumption.



  • Volvo’s European manufacturing units now only use green electricity – hydropower. This means the utility providers sell certificates to guarantee that all electricity delivered to Volvo Cars in Sweden and Belgium has been generated from hydropower. The agreement covers about 1,000 GWh (gigawatt hours).
  • A review of the development and engineering departments’ building in Torslanda, Sweden, resulted in 30% energy savings.
  • New Volvo cars are designed to be 85% recyclable and designed for 95% recoverability.

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