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Volkswagen Plans to be Carbon Neutral by 2050

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Volkswagen Electric Vehicles Future Carbon Neutral
The German automaker is attempting to help save the Earth, one vehicle at a time
Photo: Volkswagen

Following its “Drive Bigger” campaign, Volkswagen is committed to its mission to help save the Earth. It plans on doing this by making all of its vehicles — as well as how those vehicles are made — carbon neutral by the year 2050. But what exactly does this mean and how will it shape the future of the automotive world?

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What is carbon neutral?

To understand what Volkswagen is doing and why it matters, we have to talk about carbon dioxide, also referred to as CO2. Any time you get behind the wheel of a gasoline-powered vehicle, it is emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That is bad for the environment, as the more CO2 that’s released into the air, the hotter the Earth will get. This is where global warming (climate change) comes into play; if the Earth gets too hot, it will be uninhabitable.

Carbon neutral is when an individual or organization removes as much carbon dioxide as it puts into the atmosphere. The overall goal of carbon neutrality is to achieve a zero carbon footprint and therefore preserving the Earth for much longer than what is currently being predicted.

How is VW achieving this?

Earlier in the year, Volkswagen committed to the same goals as the Paris Agreement, which is aiming to reduce global warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The agreement, which was originally signed in 2016 by 200 nations, has measures set in place to help cut down on emissions of CO2 and other pollutants. VW believes one big step that automakers can help with is to create zero-emission vehicles that are affordable for all, not just those with hedge funds.

Volkswagen Chattanooga Manufacturing Plant Carbon Neutral
The solar fields at the VW Chattanooga plant provide more than 12 million kilowatt-hours per year
Photo: Volkswagen

While the company can’t completely avoid the use of CO2 at the moment to produce its vehicles, it plans on cutting back as much as possible. By 2028, VW expects to have sold approximately 22 million EVs worldwide through 70 available models. Some experts are still attempting to determine whether fully electric vehicles actually produce fewer CO2 emissions than hybrids or gas-powered vehicles. But the European Environment Agency has reported that EVs typically have lower emissions during the lifespan of the vehicle compared to its counterparts.

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What about the production?

Obviously, a manufacturing plant is going to produce emissions when it produces anything. Volkswagen has a plan for that as well. The automaker will improve its processes by utilizing solar power, as it currently does at its Chattanooga plant, as well as changing its suppliers to those who are on the same mission. And while the production of all-electric vehicles is ideal, Volkswagen still understands the need for alternative fuel vehicles. It hopes that by 2040, approximately 60 percent of its sales in the U.S. will be EVs while another 10-25 percent will be some sort of hybrid.