Driving for a Better Planet

Arpita Paul, ME (2021-22)

Driving for a Better Planet

Have you ever imagined a planet where there will be no problems like environmental pollution or global warming? If you have, then you may have seen that the one cause of global warming in our planet is various types of automobiles and the pollution created from them. And to get rid of this problem scientist have started to think about green and sustainable driving.

Green and sustainable driving involve the use of eco-friendly vehicles, efficient driving practices, and technologies that minimize environmental impact. It focuses on reducing carbon emissions, promoting energy efficiency, and adopting methods that contribute to the long-term well-being of the environment. Nowadays, some automobile industries have started to implement green and sustainable driving system in their car.

Evolution of Green and Sustainable Driving in Automobile Industry

The evolution of green and sustainable driving in the automobile industry has unfolded over the years. In the early 2000s, Toyota took a pioneering step with the introduction of the Prius, a hybrid electric vehicle, in 1997. This marked a significant milestone, and Toyota continued to lead in green technology adoption.

As the years progressed, other major automotive companies followed suit, introducing electric and hybrid models. Tesla, founded in 2003, emerged as a key player, popularizing electric vehicles with models like the Tesla Roadster (2008) and later the Model S (2012).

BMW ventured into sustainable driving with its "i" series, featuring the all-electric i3 and the plug-in hybrid i8. The i3, in particular, emphasized the use of lightweight materials and sustainable production practices.

What can be done by an automobile industry for implementing green and sustainable driving concept in their industry?

Automobile industry has taken several measures to implement green and sustainable driving concept in their industry:

Development of Electric and Hybrid Vehicle

The acceleration of electric vehicles (EVs) within the automobile industry marks a pivotal shift towards environmental sustainability, driven by their substantial impact on reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. As of 2020, the global electric car stock exceeded 10 million units, preventing the release of approximately 40 million tons of CO2 compared to traditional vehicles, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA) (IEA, 2021). This numerical value underscores the indispensable role EVs play in mitigating climate change and shaping an eco-friendlier automotive landscape. Beyond emissions reduction, EVs play a crucial role in diversifying energy sources, mitigating dependence on fossil fuels. Nations like Norway, where EVs thrive due to a high percentage of renewable energy in the electricity mix, exemplify the potential for EVs to operate with minimal environmental impact. The accessibility and convenience of EVs are closely tied to the development of a robust charging infrastructure. Fast-charging stations, exemplified by Tesla's Supercharger network with over 25,000 connectors globally, have revolutionized long-distance travel for EV owners, showcasing the rapid evolution of charging technology (Tesla, 2021). Additionally, advancements in home charging make overnight charging feasible, contributing to the widespread adoption of EVs. Government incentives and policy support further propel the shift towards electric mobility. Countries worldwide are implementing tax credits, rebates, and regulations favoring the production and purchase of electric vehicles. Norway's success in EV adoption, driven by financial incentives and preferential treatment, serves as a testament to the transformative impact of supportive government policies (IEA, 2021). Examples of major automakers investing heavily in EVs include General Motors' commitment to an all-electric future by 2035, aiming to eliminate tailpipe emissions from light-duty vehicles. Volkswagen, with its ID. series, represents a paradigm shift towards electric mobility, with plans to become the global leader in EV sales by 2025. These initiatives not only emphasize the industry-wide embrace of electric mobility but also showcase the pivotal role of major players in driving sustainable transportation.

In the dynamic landscape of automotive innovation, hybrid vehicles have emerged as a strategic bridge between conventional and electric propulsion systems, offering a spectrum of benefits that redefine fuel efficiency and pave the way for sustainable transitions. Hybrid technologies come in various forms, from mild hybrids to plug-in hybrids, each optimizing fuel efficiency in distinctive ways. The Toyota Prius, a trailblazer in the hybrid domain, exemplifies the success of full hybrids by seamlessly integrating the combustion engine and electric motor for enhanced fuel economy. Numerically, studies indicate that full hybrids can achieve up to 30% better fuel efficiency compared to their non-hybrid counterparts (U.S. Department of Energy, 2021). A key feature propelling hybrid vehicle into the spotlight is regenerative braking, a groundbreaking technology that converts kinetic energy during braking into electricity, subsequently stored in the battery. This not only enhances overall fuel efficiency but also extends the lifespan of the braking system. The Toyota Camry Hybrid exemplifies the integration of regenerative braking, showcasing how this technology enhances fuel efficiency by recapturing energy that would otherwise be dissipated as heat. The numerical impact is substantial, with regenerative braking contributing to a 15-20% improvement in overall fuel efficiency in hybrid vehicles (U.S. Department of Energy, 2021). Hybrid vehicles further distinguish themselves with the ability to operate in electric-only mode, offering a silent and emissions-free driving experience, particularly in urban settings. The Chevrolet Volt stands as a prime example, allowing drivers to cover significant distances solely on electric power before seamlessly transitioning to the combustion engine for extended range. This dual-mode functionality addresses range anxiety concerns and resonates with consumers seeking a harmonious balance between electric and conventional driving. Numerically, plug-in hybrids like the Chevrolet Volt can achieve all-electric ranges of 40 miles or more, significantly reducing reliance on traditional fuels (U.S. Department of Energy, 2021). As the automotive industry propels towards a sustainable future, hybrid solutions serve as a transitional technology, strategically navigating the path towards fully electric vehicles. Automakers, recognizing the versatility of hybrids, are investing in research and development to refine and expand hybrid offerings. Ford's commitment to hybrid technology is evident in models like the Ford Escape Hybrid, showcasing how hybrid solutions are not merely a stopgap but an integral component of a comprehensive sustainability strategy. The numerical impact is palpable, with hybrid vehicles contributing to a global reduction in CO2 emissions by approximately 95 million tons as of 2021 (International Energy Agency, 2021).

Improvement in Battery Technology

In recent years, the automobile industry has experienced transformative developments in battery technology, notably driven by advancements in lithium-ion batteries. A pivotal metric, energy density, has surged from approximately 100 Wh/kg to over 250 Wh/kg in the last decade. This increase is a game-changer for electric vehicles (EVs), contributing to significantly extended driving ranges. A prime example is the Tesla Model S, which achieved an impressive 370-mile range on a single charge in 2021, showcasing the tangible impact of enhanced energy density. The progress extends beyond density improvements, encompassing innovative materials like silicon anodes and solid-state electrolytes. Silicon anodes, offering higher energy storage capacity than conventional graphite counterparts, represent a crucial breakthrough. Furthermore, the evolution of fast-changing technologies is evident in notable models like the Porsche Taycan, capable of charging from 5% to 80% in around 22.5 minutes. This acceleration in charging speed addresses a critical aspect of EV adoption—reducing charging time and enhancing convenience for users. These advancements underscore a shift towards more efficient and sustainable automotive energy solutions. To delve deeper into these technological strides, references to reputable scientific journals such as "Nature" provide comprehensive insights into the research and development landscape, offering a nuanced understanding of the ongoing innovations shaping the future of battery technology in the automobile industry.

Investment in Renewable Energy

It is estimated that humanity will run out of fossil fuels this century. As of my last knowledge update in January 2022, global non-renewable energy reserves, including fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas, were substantial but depleting gradually. Moreover, non-renewable energy sources cause green-house effect and environment pollution. On the other hand, renewable energy sources, such as electric power, contribute to lower greenhouse gas emissions, reducing the environmental impact of transportation. Additionally, renewable energy can enhance energy security by diversifying the sources of power and reducing dependence on finite fossil fuels. Moreover, advancements in renewable technology can lead to innovations, fostering economic growth and job creation in the green energy sector. That’s why the automobile industry should prioritize renewable energy over traditional fuels.

Implementation of Sustainable Materials and Manufacturing

The automotive industry is undergoing a revolutionary transformation in its commitment to sustainable materials and manufacturing practices, fundamentally altering the landscape of vehicle production. Car manufacturers are increasingly adopting eco-friendly materials, such as recycled plastics and bio-based composites, with the global automotive recycled plastics market expected to reach $5.2 billion by 2025 (Smithers, 2021). Lightweight design is a cornerstone of this green shift, leveraging advanced materials like carbon fiber composites to reduce vehicle weight. For instance, the BMW i3 incorporates carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) to enhance efficiency and decrease environmental impact, contributing to a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions during its life cycle (BMW Group, 2020). Recycling initiatives are gaining traction, with companies like Tesla pioneering closed-loop battery recycling, reclaiming materials and minimizing waste. Green certifications, including ISO 14001, underscore industry commitment to sustainable practices. As consumer preferences align with environmental consciousness, automakers are increasingly incorporating these materials into flagship models, creating a sustainable driving narrative that goes beyond the road and into the heart of manufacturing.

Why should people choose green and sustainable driving actually?

  • Green driving means less pollution, so we can breathe cleaner air and stay healthy.

  • Choosing sustainable options helps protect trees, animals, and nature from harm.

  • Green driving reduces the bad stuff that hurts our planet, making it a better place to live.

  • Sustainable driving, like with electric cars, uses less power, helping save energy.

  • When cars are made with recycled materials, we don't waste as much and help the environment.

  • Green cars don't use gas, so there's no smelly exhaust, making our surroundings nicer.

  • Being eco-friendly in the car industry follows the rules and keeps companies out of trouble.

  • People like cars that are good for the Earth, so making green choices makes customers happy.

  • Green driving reduces the things that make the weather go crazy, like too much heat or storms.

  • Companies that choose green and sustainable practices stay ahead in the changing world and attract more customers.

In conclusion, the imperative for green and sustainable driving lies in its potential to mitigate environmental impact, reduce carbon emissions, and foster a healthier planet. The adoption of electric vehicles, utilization of eco-friendly fuels, and incorporation of energy-efficient technologies are pivotal for a sustainable future in the automotive industry. Individuals, governments, and businesses collectively contribute to this paradigm shift by choosing eco-friendly transportation options, incentivizing sustainable practices, and investing in clean technologies. By prioritizing green driving, we not only address climate change but also create a positive impact on air quality, resource conservation, and overall environmental well-being, charting a course toward a cleaner, greener, and more sustainable transportation landscape. So, for a better planet, every automobile industry should choose green and sustainable driving.