A vehicle’s environmental impact is largely decided during the first stages of its development. The earlier we integrate environmentally responsible product development (Design for Environment, DfE) into the development process, the more efficiently we can minimize the impact on the environment.
For every vehicle model and every engine variant, we have catalogues of specifications that define the characteristics and target values that must be achieved. These specifications include requirements concerning fuel consumption and emissions limit values for CO2 and nitrogen oxides. During the development process we regularly monitor compliance with these specifications.
In a committee situated directly below the Board of Management level, the managers responsible for each vehicle model series evaluate the results of this monitoring process and decide on any necessary corrective measures. If corrections are needed, the responsible member of the Board of Management is included in the decision-making. If the situation continues to escalate, the managing body of the respective division is also included.
The CO2 process in vehicle development
All of the divisions integrate all vehicle-related goals, including those that are relevant to the environment, into their vehicle development process according to a similar pattern. The chart E.01 shows the Mercedes-Benz Development System (MDS) as an example.
In many markets there are fleet targets for the fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of cars and light commercial vehicles — in other words, overall targets for all the vehicles sold in a given market. The corresponding controlling process for reaching the CO2 fleet consumption target for Cars Europe (EU 28) is shown as an example.
The key factors for determining the target values for fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are the technological possibilities, the legal requirements including the fleet targets for fuel consumption, and customer wishes. The body responsible for complying with these goals is the CO2 steering committee, which is headed by the Board of Management member responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development.
The fleet values for CO2 emissions are calculated on the basis of the fuel economy figures of the vehicles available on the market and the fuel economy specifications and prognoses for vehicles that are still in the development phase. These values are combined with the sales forecasts to arrive at the projected fleet consumption values for CO2 emissions.
The actual values may deviate from the projected target values because of various external factors such as alterations in the sales structure, changes in the political framework conditions or changes in the fuel consumption target values of the vehicles that are still in the development phase. In case of a deviation, the CO2 steering committee organizes an assessment of various options and then decides on the measures to be initiated. If the need for adjustment is especially urgent, the process is escalated to the responsible managing body. From a strategic standpoint, this process takes place over a period of approximately ten years.
CO2 emissions per car: 125 g/km
We are working hard to reduce the fuel consumption of our vehicles. As early as 2015, we were able to reduce the CO2 emissions of newly registered vehicles from Mercedes-Benz Cars in the EU to an average of 123 grams per kilometer. This means we achieved our 2016 target of 125 g/km ahead of schedule. In 2017, emissions rose slightly to 125 g/km because of the shift in sales toward vehicles equipped with higher-quality appointments.
The new WLTP test cycle
Since September 2017, all of our new car models in Europe have been certified according to the Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP). This test procedure includes numerous changes compared to the previous New European Driving Cycle (NEDC). The changes include higher average and maximum speeds, more dynamic handling, gliding inertial masses instead of inertia classes, a smaller standstill share of total fuel consumption, and consideration of optional extras and the quiescent current requirement. Overall, these changes are leading to more realistic, but also higher, fuel economy values.
In order to obtain data that is comparable, the fleet emissions of the individual automakers are now being calculated back from the certification values of the WLTP test cycle to the CO2 fleet values of the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC). The transition to WLTP basically means for all manufacturers that the requirements regarding a fleet’s fuel consumption, and thus its CO2 emissions, have become much more stringent. However, this transition did not yet have significant effects in 2017. By means of extensive investment in innovative drive technologies and a comprehensive expansion of the product range with more than 50 electrified models, Daimler/Mercedes-Benz Cars is preparing to achieve the more stringent EU targets. At the same time, strong customer demand for SUVs is leading to a shift of the structural mix towards mid-sized and large automobiles, which presents us with a significant challenge to meet the targets of the European Union in 2021.
We continue to work hard to meet all statutory CO2 requirements, including the very challenging EU limits for 2021. As we often emphasize, the fulﬁllment of these challenging ﬂeet targets depends not only on oﬀering appealing and highly eﬃcient products with electric drive systems, but also on our customers’ actual decisions to buy those models. In order to optimally position ourselves in this respect, we are systematically changing over our product range to the latest engine generations, and are also systematically electrifying our portfolio with plugin hybrids and all-electric vehicles. (See Risk and Opportunity Report)