Volkswagen's green commitment: $52 billion

Volkswagen's green commitment: $52 billion

German automaker Volkswagen aims to drop the average emissions from its new vehicles to 120 grams CO2/km by 2015, as part of a "fundamental ecological restructuring" likely to be worth more than €40 billion (US$52 billion by 2016.

The company says more than two thirds of its entire €62.4 billion (US$82.1 billion) investment programme for the coming five years will be directly or indirectly spent on "ever more efficient vehicles, powertrains and technologies, as well as environmentally compatible production."

VW has been looking to bolster its green reputation since being targeted by campaign group Greenpeace over its alleged lobbying against deeper cuts to EU emissions targets.

The company's new emissions reduction target would represent a 30 percent cut on 2006 levels for Europe's largest carmaker, and a sizeable reduction on its current average emissions for new vehicles of 135.5g/km, which sits fractionally below the E.U. average of 136.1 g/km in 2011.

VW said that under the new plan it wants every new model generation to be on average 10 to 15 percent more efficient than its predecessor, while emissions will also be cut from both production processes and manufacturing plants.

As part of the announcement the company unveiled a new €600 million (almost US$790 million) investment designed to expand its use of renewable energies such as wind, solar, and hydroelectric power, in order to achieve a 40 percent reduction in emissions from energy supplies by the end of the decade.

Plants will also aim to reduce water and energy consumption, as well as overall emissions, by a quarter over the next six years.

Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, chairman of the Volkswagen Group Board of Management, also declared that 2013 would be the "year of e-mobility" for Volkswagen, starting with the release of the two door mini e-up!, which will then be followed by further all-electric or partially-electric vehicles from many of the Group's brands.

"Our declared goal is to make Volkswagen the leading automaker in ecological terms, too," he said on the eve of the Geneva motorshow, before stating that Volkswagen's new five year strategy will focus on responsible conduct towards employees, society, and the environment.

"To take pole position and to sustain that lead over the long term, you have to understand all these dimensions of our business and to practice them convincingly at every level," Winterkorn added. "We are raising the bar much higher when it comes to sustainability."

Volkswagen photo via Shutterstock.