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The Sustainable Energy for All initiative was launched by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to mobilize action and partnerships focused on sustainably meeting the increasing energy requirements of businesses and society. The initiative has set three primary objectives, to be met by 2030: ensuring universal access to modern energy services; doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency; and doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
This report looks at the automobile industry and identifies six priority actions it can take to reduce its energy use while simultaneously driving high performance.
The automobile industry uses substantial amounts of energy in the manufacturing of its products, but perhaps more importantly, the design of its products determines how end-users will consume energy for personal and other transportation needs.
Transportation accounts for approximately one quarter of global energy use. This is projected to increase by nearly 50 percent by 2030 and by more than 80 percent by 2050 in the absence of new regulations. By using new materials and technologies to make vehicles lighter and more efficient, and by producing new and innovative vehicles that run on renewable or alternative fuels, the automobile industry can have a significant impact on the energy consumption of consumers. This influence makes automobile companies essential to the global effort to use energy more efficiently and further advance renewable energy.
Transportation accounts for approximately one-quarter of global energy use—but it is highly inefficient, with only 14-26 percent of the energy from the fuel put in the car being used to move it.
The automobile industry is leading the research and development of innovative alternative fuels and energy-efficient technologies, and of creating the next-generation vehicle. To do this, the industry often partners with government and academic institutions.
There are four major innovation trends taking shape in the automobile industry to address sustainable energy opportunities and market development:
Technology improvements to the traditional internal combustion engine to increase fuel efficiency such as turbocharging and downsizing.
Improved advanced hybrid technologies and deployment in larger vehicles.
Making vehicles lighter by using new materials such as aluminum or carbon fiber.
Development of alternative and advanced fuels (mainly electricity, sustainable biofuels and gaseous fuels).
The automobile industry is facing increased competition, especially as new players enter the market trying to capture the increased demand coming from the emerging markets. To succeed, companies must find ways to reduce costs for materials, manufacturing and operations across the supply chain. Energy is a key component of those costs.
Government entities also significantly impact the industry by enacting fuel or emissions regulations such as renewable fuel standards, providing consumer purchase incentives such as tax breaks, or through financing investments to automobile manufacturers such as emergency loans.
External factors are also having an impact on the industry:
Higher oil prices are affecting consumer demand for automobiles and encouraging investments in smaller more fuel-efficient vehicles and alternative fuel technologies.
Rising demand for automobiles from emerging markets has put upward pressure on commodity prices for raw materials.
More frequent natural disasters, such as the earthquake in Fukushima Japan, interrupt automobile parts supply chains and can reduce/delay vehicle production for many major companies.
Currency exchange rate swings are forcing more localized sourcing and production in the automobile industry.
Customer demand is shifting toward safe, value-based, connected vehicles.
Accenture and the UN Global Compact have identified six priority actions the automobile industry can take to become more energy efficient, promote alternative fuels and advance their business opportunities in the sustainable energy market:
Improve vehicle fuel economy.
Manufacture flexible-fuel vehicles and educate customers on the usage and benefits of flexible-fuel vehicles.
Manufacture automobiles that derive energy from sources other than petroleum.
Make production processes more energy efficient in plants and identify opportunities to reuse waste streams at production facilities.
Use renewable energy to power automobile and parts manufacturing plants.
Promote gas-saving strategies among drivers.
October 2, 2012
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