How does the automotive sector proceed towards a sustainable future?

How does the automotive sector proceed towards a sustainable future?

Sustainability, environmental performance, ESG, eco-friendliness, clean manufacturing and renewable energy are terms that saturate all markets, regardless of geographical location or industry. In this short series of blog articles, we will take a closer look at what the automotive and aviation markets are looking from sustainability in the near future and how TactoTek® and IMSE® can help these markets reach their environmental performance targets. This time, we concentrate on the automotive market.

Megatrends and Pressure From Legislation

It goes without saying that Sustainability is a cross-industry megatrend. Over the past decade, we have seen a strong shift in automotive from internal combustion to electric powertrains, from pure performance to sustainable materials and comfort as well as Greenhouse Gas reduction throughout the car’s lifecycle. All of these combined bode well for the total environmental impact of personal transportation in the upcoming years - all being strongly affected by a powerful pull from consumers [1].

On top of well-informed and conscious consumers, European legislation is moving quickly to create a push towards sustainable manufacturing, use and recycling. As an example, the upcoming EcoDesign [2] and End-of-Life Vehicles Directives [3] will play a pivotal role in defining how cars are designed, built and disposed of. The good thing is that carmakers are themselves seeing this as an important topic: executives are seeing sustainability as a clear market differentiator. As a shining example of the automotive industry’s initiative on sustainability, we can take Polestar 0: a truly carbon-neutral production car within the next 7 years [4].

Sustainability Trends in Automotive

Sustainability is, as mentioned, an overarching topic within the automotive markets. Car manufacturers are in the epicenter of this transition by setting ambitious targets for their future car models and their environmental performance. The approaches the OEMs have chosen have slight variations, but the bottom line is the same: reduce lifecycle emissions, reach climate neutrality, prioritize sustainable materials, disclose environmental impacts openly and move into a circular economy. For example:

  • Mercedes-Benz is aiming to eliminate at least 50% of their CO2 emissions by 2030 [5];
  • BMW is focusing on secondary materials in their BMW i Vision Circular concept car [6]; and
  • Volvo is going towards a fully circular business by 2040 and will provide the full life cycle carbon footprint of their upcoming models [7].

These goals require a number of new solutions, thinking models, and technologies. The transition from traditional manufacturing, use and end-of-life to new innovations, energy efficiency, and circular materials will require a courageous leap to the unknown. The advent of true sustainability in the automotive sector needs an influx of new technologies and fresh thinking on how the market can evolve from fossil-based fuels and materials to greener options.

IMSE® - Taking Strides for Automotive Sustainability

TactoTek and IMSE (Injection Molded Structural Electronics) have been involved with the automotive markets for nearly their whole existence. We have seen firsthand the growing importance of sustainability with multiple OEMs and we can offer a helping hand in reaching their sustainability targets.

Sustainability is a built-in property of IMSE. Our technologies enable the efficient use of materials through additive manufacturing and the structure of IMSE inherently leads to a significant reduction of used materials and CO2 reductions during manufacturing. These impacts cascade up- and downstream throughout the supply chain simplifying not only the logistical operations but additionally reducing the environmental impact of freight, warehousing and manufacturing.

On the topic of manufacturing, the materials that can be used with IMSE include a set of biobased and recycled materials. These new materials play a pivotal role in reducing the environmental and social impact of material selections for any vehicle.

We’ve also heard the importance of recycling from the OEMs and legislative bodies. The new EU directives will bring more focus towards to the traceability and transparency on a component and system level. IMSE fits completely into current recycling processes and we are building up a global recycling ecosystem to answer the call for improved vehicle recycling.

We Are in This Together

The overarching shift towards sustainable vehicle manufacturing, use and end-of-life treatment is a topic that we must solve together. Consumers and legislative pressure creates the initial driver to push for environmental performance, but it is everyone one of us who must take the initiative.

Keep following us for more developments on IMSE and Sustainability - we have some interesting news to share with you during the upcoming months!


[1] How The Automotive Industry Is Driving Toward A Sustainable Future, 1.12.2021,. Accessed 7.3.2023. https://www.forbes.com/sites/sap/2021/12/01/how-the-automotive-industry-is-driving-toward-a-sustainable-future/?sh=674e527c8f1b

[2]: Ecodesign for sustainable products, European Commission, 2023. Accessed on: 7.3.2023. https://commission.europa.eu/energy-climate-change-environment/standards-tools-and-labels/products-labelling-rules-and-requirements/sustainable-products/ecodesign-sustainable-products_en

[3]: End-of-Life Vehicles, European Commission, 2023. Accessed on: 7.3.2023.  https://environment.ec.europa.eu/topics/waste-and-recycling/end-life-vehicles_en

[4]: Polestar 0, Polestar, 2023. Accessed on 8.3.2023. https://www.polestar.com/global/sustainability/climate-neutrality/polestar-0-project/

[5] https://group.mercedes-benz.com/dokumente/investoren/praesentationen/mercedes-benz-ir-sustainability-esg-goals.pdf

[6]: The BMW i Vision Circular., BMW, 6.9.2021. Accessed on 8.3.2023. https://www.press.bmwgroup.com/global/article/detail/T0341253EN/the-bmw-i-vision-circular?language=en

[7]: Sustainability, Volvo, 2023. Accessed on 8.3.2023. https://www.volvocars.com/intl/v/sustainability/climate-action

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Janne Jääskä
Janne Jääskä
Manager, Sustainability and Product Planning
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