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Sustainability series – Part II: Drive in change

Climate protection and sustainability are more than just a trend. They are increasingly a social mindset. Fridays for future is just one part of a worldwide movement. They all find their common denominator in the term neo-ecology. But what is this development all about? In our three-part focus, you’ll find out everything you need to know about it.

Sebastian Schuster
24 August 2021
Reading Time: 3 min.

The consequences of global warming caused by excessive CO2 emissions are clearly noticeable and visible: rising sea levels, receding glaciers and declining biodiversity are just a few examples. According to studies, road transport produces 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions. The demand for efficient design and the switch to more environmentally friendly means of transport are therefore becoming increasingly clear. The important thing here is to maintain the own mobility.

Mobility 2.0: from hybridization to electrification

The mobility sector is currently undergoing significant change, with the classic internal combustion engine gradually being replaced by electrification. However, the necessary requirements for “normal” end users for electric vehicles have not yet been fully met at present, so the transition to electrification will initially take place with an increase in hybrid vehicles.

Hybrid vehicles are the first step toward greener mobility – pure, mass-produced electric vehicles the final goal: according to VDMA Association`s forecasts, nearly 45 percent of all new registrations worldwide will be fully electric vehicles by 2040. The market penetration of fuel cell vehicles on a larger scale is not forecast until after 2030.

Electromobility: Change in mechanical and plant engineering

The mobility revolution is creating new challenges for the automotive industry and its suppliers. The technological changes resulting from electrification will therefore also affect the mechanical and plant engineering sector, which is regarded as an important supplier to the automotive industry. The effects on the manufacturing processes that dominate conventional drives are immense.

For example, common manufacturing processes of the combustion engine, such as turning, milling and grinding, as well as more than 1,000 individual parts across the entire value chain will be eliminated. According to a study by management consultants McKinsey, by 2030 investment in machine tools needed to manufacture engines and transmissions will fall to the equivalent of a quarter of the market. Machines for the production of combustion engines will be particularly affected, with declines of 65 percent forecast here by 2030.

E-mobility: the classic combustion engine is gradually being replaced by electrification.

Over the same period, investment in machinery for e-car production is expected to grow by 10.5 percent annually. Although electric motors consist of fewer individual parts and are characterized by lower weight, less complexity and lower material stress, battery production holds great potential. The result of a study by Transparancy Market Research indicates that the market for lithium-ion batteries will grow by around eleven percent annually until 2027. The main drivers are the automotive industry with its electric cars on the one hand, and the electronics industry on the other.

New monitoring system: Zero Emission Vehicle Index

The transformation of mobility is characterized by a high degree of dynamism: Projects are becoming more dynamic and developments faster. Supply chains, dependencies and the competitive environment are changing. In the future, the further development of the transformation is to be observed by a monitoring system. To this end, the “Zero Emission Vehicle Index” (ZEV Index) was developed as part of a VDMA study: a monitoring system that will provide orientation in the future and give companies a tool that creates more transparency and opens up a basis for planning.

More than 40 parameters from different dimensions are included in the ZEV Index. These include, for example: regulation, technology availability, charging infrastructure expansion, industry behavior, economic aspects and acceptance of electromobility. It records the market-specific characteristics of the parameters in 2016 and their expected development until 2030, enabling market scenarios to be created and volatile influencing factors to be analyzed. This in turn helps to identify drivers and derive needs for action.

It is still unclear what will be at the end of this change and at what speed it will take place. One thing is certain, however: mechanical and plant engineering as an innovative solution provider is crucial – in hybrid and electric drives, in lightweight construction and in battery production.

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Sebastian Schuster
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