Automotive Career Feature

Environmental Sustainability: How it Affects the Auto Industry

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Threats posed to the environment have deemed it necessary for corporate firms and governments around the world to adopt and implement environmental sustainability measures. The automotive industry is one of the active industries at the frontline of ensuring environmental sustainability. Environmental sustainability measures adopted by corporate firms and governments have affected the auto industry in a number of ways.

Environmental Sustainability: How it Affects the Auto Industry
Consumer demand for more environmentally sound car models has spurred manufacturers to develop vehicles that use alternative forms of energy, such as the electric car.
Environmental sustainability has led to the research and development of vehicles that are fuel-efficient in order to reduce carbon emissions into the atmosphere. It has also led to the creation of new career advancement opportunities for researchers, designers, and engineers in the automotive industry, as their services are required to design these fuel-efficient vehicles. The German-made car that can cover 100 kilometers using only three liters of fuel is an example of recently-developed fuel-efficient cars.

Although traditionally the automotive industry has mainly dealt with manufacturing and design engineers, environmental scientists and other professionals specialized in environmental disciplines have come to be in demand in the industry in recent years. Their advice, ideas, and output is required during design and test sessions in order to ensure the environmental safety of cars. Professionals specialized in energy, such as energy engineers, have also found work opportunities in the automotive industry. As companies look for ways of utilizing energy-efficient processes in their manufacturing plants, energy engineers provide critical support in design and implementation. Their services are also handy for companies that manufacture energy-saving cars, where they advise on the use of alternative energy-saving materials in making car interiors.

In line with the global environmental sustainability efforts, the automotive industry has come up with a number of alternative environmentally sound cars. The auto industry designers have come up with designs of more efficient internal combustion engines. They have also developed hybrid engines that reduce green gas emissions into the atmosphere. Hybrids are different from normal gas engines because they utilize batteries to store energy. In some cars that utilize hybrid engines, like the Honda Civic and Toyota Prius, fuel-efficiency can be greatly improved because the energy acquired can be used to power the engines. However, the automotive industry has to be cautious of hybrid engines that do not provide any more fuel efficiency than their non-hybrid counterparts. Examples of such vehicles are the Toyota Highlander and Honda Accord.

Designers have also come up with electric vehicles (EVs). EVs use an electric motor and a large power pack to draw their power; they do not have a gas tank. The battery pack helps in recharging the electric motor. Advancement in research and technology has enabled modern EVs to travel great miles without the need to recharge their motors. These oil-free cars are, however, very rare to find and it may take some time before they are fully commercialized.

Environmental Sustainability: How it Affects the Auto Industry
Some hybrid cars use gas and an electric engine.
Many professionals in the automotive industry are advocating for the use of biodiesel instead of oil. This biodegradable type of diesel is made from biomass and produces fewer emissions than diesel. Its commercial utilization is mainly hindered by its high production costs.

Many auto companies nowadays produce cars that can use both ethanol and diesel. Some cars are modified to use a combination of the two. Ethanol, which is a product of corn and other plant wastes, does not pollute the atmosphere like gasoline does and is considered a viable option in the reduction of oil dependence.

Not only has the automotive industry made great strides in car manufacturing and design, but it has also come up with innovative ways to reduce the energy they use in their auto processes. For example, Daimler Chrysler has devised approaches where the energy used in car painting is reduced by up to 20%. In this method, the primer is eliminated and an anti-corrosion coat is sprayed when the car is dipped. After this, two water-based coatings are electrostatically applied on top of the anti-corrosion coat. The process produces high-quality paint work and saves energy at the same time.

The environmental issues that have come to light have the adoption of drastic changes in the design and construction of cars in the automotive industry. Auto companies are expected to continue pursuing other ambitious projects on energy saving cars while at the same time keeping the safety of the vehicle. Energy-saving processes will continue to be researched and implemented, and consumer goods like electric cars, scooters, and bikes will continue to be developed. As of right now, the automotive industry is experiencing a drastic drop in sales due to these environmental issues and high gas prices. No doubt companies will continue to pursue energy-efficient methods.
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