Next stop, a mobility revolution: pathways, solutions and business models
To move from ambition to reality, there are four main transformation pathways to increase circularity and progress through the levels:
Energy decarbonization: A complete shift to renewable energy sources in the production and use phase
Materials circularity: Achieving 100% circular material content (recycled or renewable materials) and end-of-life processing (“same level” recycling)
Lifetime optimization: Extending vehicle and component lifetimes
Utilization improvement: Drastically improving use of available capacity
A balanced approach to all four pathways is important. Investing heavily in only one pathway, such as energy decarbonization, misses out on the “low-hanging fruits” of other pathways and might make improvements more costly. Also, the double benefit of improving both carbon and resources efficiency should be appropriately considered—making usage improvements, lifetime extensions and materials circularity ultimately complementary to energy decarbonization.
Circularity will require implementing a holistic set of solutions across the value chain
Our research shows that these strategies have the potential to reduce carbon emissions by up to 75% and non-circular resource consumption by up to 80% per passenger kilometer for a battery electric vehicle. However, these changes won’t be achievable overnight. Operationalizing solutions will be challenging because its elements are so closely intertwined. Often it is not worth pursuing individual solutions. Circularity requires the implementation of a set of solutions across the value chain to achieve environmental impact and to create business value. Together, we need to raise ambitions on circularity and build a new automobility ecosystem that seeks not merely to do less harm but rather to enable new sustainable opportunities.