Audi Tests Circular Economy Potential of End-of-Life Vehicles
Audi, a VW Group brand, is pushing the boundaries of closing material cycles in the automotive industry with its joint venture Material Loop. In collaboration with 15 partners from research, recycling, and supplier sectors, Audi is assessing the use of post-consumer materials recovered from customers vehicles at the end of their lifespan for the manufacture of new cars.
The Material Loop project is integral to Audi’s circular economy strategy as the company aims to transform the way it reclaims materials from old cars.
The automotive company intends to shift away from downcycling, which degrades the quality of materials due to the recycling process. Audi plans to move towards higher levels of reuse.
“The MaterialLoop project underscores our ambitious vision to operate a highly efficient circular economy concept for end-of-life vehicles,” said Audi CEO Markus Duesmann. “It is our goal to recover as many materials as possible at a high level of quality and reuse them in production. This will save valuable primary materials and lower the products’ ecological footprint. Simultaneously, direct access to secondary materials can contribute to increased security of supply. Raw materials would no longer have to be extracted.”
In October 2022, Audi took part in the MaterialLoop joint project, where 100 cars, including former development cars, were disassembled. The carefully planned dismantling of components led to the saving of top quality secondary materials such as big plastic parts for recycling.
With partners from the recycling industry, the Audi supply chain, and academia, Audi crafted and piloted a process to test the reuse of these materials for the production of new cars.
“Our emphasis on cycles within the industry enables us to use our products and the materials they’re made from for as long as possible. Our vision is to rely less on secondary materials from other industries in the future”, explains Johanna Klewitz, head of supply chain sustainability at Audi.
Besides the technical feasibility of returning materials in the Audi supply chain, improving future generations of Audi vehicles’ ability to be recycled is also in focus. The project is part of Audi’s circular economy strategy and delivers valuable insights into implementing a circular economy in practice. Dennis Meinen, expert for circular economy at Audi: “At its core, circular economy is about handling resources responsibly. Longevity, repairability, and, indeed, our products’ ability to be recycled are thus all in focus.”