Clients: Sintercast AB (Sweden) and four foundries (3x German and  1x Brazilian)

A 21 person month 'cradle-to-grave' study of the total energy and CO2 impact of passenger vehicle engine production, interviewing more than 100 manufacturers and industry experts, from mining through to engine production and on-the-road use was completed in three months for a consortium of component suppliers to the automotive industry.

The study focused on the most representative engine in use globally, a 1.6 litre four cylinder engine, and compared aluminium models with the more traditionally cast iron engines with the same driving performance. The study found substantial evidence that the sole focus on tailpipe emissions as a measure of environmental impact has led to serious unintended consequences. In order to cut fuel use and emissions, the automotive industry has been pushed into using lightweight aluminium in the manufacture of vehicles with a far higher cost to the environment than any savings achieved through reduced tailpipe emissions. A typical aluminium engine car would need to be driven for between 185,000km and 560,000km before there were any environmental benefits from the lower fuel use involved. The average life expectancy of motor vehicles is about 210,000km.

In response, researchers are calling for the introduction of energy rating labelling for all motor vehicles globally - similar to those used for white goods, homes and other buildings - to provide a more accurate indication to consumers of the real environmental impact of their vehicle choice and include the manufacturing emissions as well as the use emissions.

Find out more

International Vienna Motor Symposium

Publication: Primary manufacturing, engine production and on-the-road CO2: how can the automotive industry best contribute to environmental sustainability