Aluminum Closed Loop in the press shop: More than 350,000 metric tons CO2 emissions saved since introduction

Audi has a long tradition of using aluminum. The first Audi A8 with the Audi Space Frame, a pioneering achievement in lightweight construction, debuted in 1994. Audi continues to use the lightweight metal in various components of what is now the fourth generation of the luxury sedan as part of an innovative multi-material mix. The production of aluminum is very energy intensive, however. Audi therefore manages the material in a recycling loop.

This saves precious primary raw materials and helps that the cars enter the use phase with a better environmental balance. The press shops in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm use recycled aluminum for parts of the model lines Audi A3, A4, A5, A6, A7 and A8 models, and also for parts of the Audi e-tron and e-tron Sportback. Other sites will follow in due course.

“The efficient and frugal use of resources is just as important to us as the reduction of our CO2 emissions,” says Marco Philippi, Head of Procurement Strategy. “The energy input for the reuse of secondary aluminum is up to 95 percent lower than for the production of primary aluminum.”

Audi introduced the “Aluminum Closed Loop” at the Neckarsulm site back in 2017. The aluminum sheet offcuts that are produced in the press shop are sent straight back to the supplier. The supplier recycles these into aluminum sheets of equal quality, which Audi then uses in production. Audi at Neckarsulm now employs this Aluminum Closed Loop with two suppliers, thus increasing the amount of aluminum managed in the closed loop. This achieved a savings of roughly 150,000 metric tons of CO2 in 2019, two-thirds more than the year before. The Ingolstadt plant also recently introduced the Aluminum Closed Loop. The plant in Győr plans to introduce it next year, with additional plants and model lines to follow in due course. Secondary aluminum is currently used in various body parts of the Audi A3, A4, A5, A6, A7 and A8, and also in parts of the Audi e-tron and e-tron Sportback.

The switch to electric mobility increases the proportion of CO₂ emissions that the supply chain accounts for. Here and in the upstream production processes, Audi will generate in perspective almost a quarter of its CO₂ emissions by 2025, based on the forecast fleet average. Audi is therefore working with its suppliers to address measures that will have an impact in this early phase of production. In 2018, the company had already initiated a joint CO2 program with its suppliers to identify measures for further CO2 reductions in the supply chain. Opportunities lie primarily in closed material loops, the successive increase in the use of secondary materials, the use of processed or recycled materials, so-called recyclates, in polymer components and the use of green electricity. These measures are expected to be fully effective by 2025 and harbor potential CO2 savings of 1.2 metric tons per vehicle on average.