Environmental Protection

A comprehensive approach to environmental protection

The transition to CO2-neutral mobility is vital if the impact of climate change is to be limited. We at Daimler are working hard to make this vision reality. Mercedes-Benz AG has had its climate protection measures scientifically confirmed by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTI). By means of these targets, the company would like to make a contribution to environmental protection in line with the Paris agreement on global climate change.

Furthermore, in our sustainable business strategy, we have set ourselves the goal of making our fleet of new cars CO2-neutral for the vehicles’ entire lifecycle by 2039. Daimler Trucks & Buses aims to offer only new vehicles that are CO2-neutral in driving operation (tank-to-wheel) in the major markets of Europe, Japan and the NAFTA region by 2039. Mercedes-Benz Vans is currently striving to achieve similar reductions in CO2 emissions.

Ambition 2039: Our path to sustainable mobility

The environmental and energy-related guidelines approved by the Board of Management define the environmental and energy-related policy of the Daimler Group. This expresses our commitment to integrated environmental protection that begins with the underlying factors that have an impact on the environment, assesses the environmental effects of production processes and products in advance, and takes these findings into account in corporate decision-making.

A vehicle’s environmental impact is largely determined during the first phases of its development. The earlier we integrate environmentally responsible product development (design for the environment, DfE) into the development process, the more efficiently we can reduce the impact on the environment. (See »Environmental Issues«)

CO2 emissions from our car fleet

In the year under review, the average CO2 emissions of our car fleet in Europe (EU28 plus Iceland and Norway) probably increased to 137 g/km (NEDC, including vans registered as passenger cars (M1)) (Mercedes-Benz Cars 135 g/km). This means that we were unable to reduce our CO2 emissions from the prior-year level. There were several reasons for this development. First, the shift of sales from vehicles with diesel engines to those powered by gasoline engines. In addition, the certification changeover became fully effective in 2019 with the roll-out of WLTP. We intend to achieve our objective of reducing our CO2 emissions for 2020, thus continuing to comply with the valid EU limit values by means of a planned expansion of our portfolio to include further electric models and assuming corresponding customer demand. More detailed information can be found in the »Non-Financial Report« section of this Annual Report. 

Inner-city air quality

In addition to climate protection, the improvement of inner-city air quality is an important environmental consideration for us. That’s because road traffic still accounts for a considerable share of nitrogen dioxide pollution (NO2) near roads.

Plans call for our new vehicle fleet to no longer have any relevant impact on NO2 emissions in urban areas by 2025. Another of our aims is to increase transparency with regard to vehicle-related particulate emissions and forge ahead with the research and development of measures for reducing such emissions.

A reduction in NOx emissions is made possible by an innovative overall package consisting of the engine and the exhaust treatment system. This package is being continuously enhanced and has been comprehensively launched on the market in the new engine generation encompassing the OM 654, 656 and 608.

Overall, Daimler is developing software updates for a majority of Euro 6b and Euro 5 diesel passenger cars in Europe. These updates should improve the nitrogen-oxide emissions of the vehicles in normal operation by 25 to 30 percent on average. This will be verified with the WLTC 1, 2, 3 measurement cycle. As early as 2017 Daimler had announced that it would offer voluntary service measures that would include software updates for several millions of diesel vehicles in Europe. The company has since then extended this update campaign, among other things to include van models. As is well known, Daimler has in addition been carrying out obligatory recalls - during which software updates are also applied - at the order of Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) since 2018.

An important role is also being played by the launch of vehicles that comply with the Euro 6d-TEMP emissions standard. In the meantime all Mercedes-Benz passenger cars that can be ordered as new vehicles now comply with this standard at a minimum.

Conserving resources: consistently high recyclability

Raw materials that we require for use in our vehicles are available in sufficient quantities today. However, we will only be able to safeguard the supply of these materials in the long term if they are extracted and recycled in ways that are environmentally friendly and socially responsible and in acceptable amounts. We therefore seek to establish a completely closed-loop value and supply chain. This objective is also the driving force behind our implementation of various measures to lower resource consumption in all areas - from development all the way through to recycling. In this manner, we plan to increasingly decouple resource consumption per vehicle from the company’s sales growth.

In order to evaluate the environmental compatibility of a vehicle, we analyze the use of resources throughout its entire life cycle. The production of vehicles naturally requires great quantities of materials. Therefore, one of the focal points of our development tasks is to keep the demand for natural resources as low as possible. During vehicle development, we also prepare a recycling concept for every one of our Mercedes-Benz car models. This concept includes an analysis of the suitability of all components and materials for the various stages of the recycling process. As a result, all Mercedes-Benz car models are 85 % recyclable and 95 % recoverable. The key aspects of our activities in this area are:

  • the resale of tested and certified used parts through the Mercedes-Benz Used Parts Center (GTC),
  • the remanufacturing of used parts, and
  • the workshop waste disposal system MeRSy (Mercedes-Benz Recycling System).

Environmental protection in production

Beginning in 2022, we plan to achieve CO2-neutral production in all of our Mercedes-Benz car plants in Europe. New plants are already being planned with this in mind. Factory 56 is showing the way. This new factory building in the Mercedes-Benz Sindelfingen plant will already be supplied with CO2-neutral energy when it goes into operation. The plant in Hambach, France, already covers all of its electricity requirements with energy from renewable sources (green electricity, biogas). Its production operations are CO2-neutral. Production at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Jawor, Poland, will also be CO2-neutral as of the plant’s commissioning. The new plant will be completely supplied with electricity from renewable resources by a wind farm. Heating will be provided by a heating plant directly adjacent to the plant site. This will provide energy from renewable resources.

In Germany, Mercedes-Benz AG will also in the future obtain electricity from German wind power facilities whose subsidies in accordance with Germany’s Renewable Energy Act (EEG) are due to expire after 2020. This will support the long-term operation of six wind farms in northern Germany. Energy efficiency is already being implemented in production operations today. Various technical measures such as the optimization of lighting and ventilation technology (including more efficient systems and optimized switching times), intelligent control (including automatic switch-off of consumers during breaks and production-free periods) and the use of efficient technology in planning (such as high-efficiency turbo compressors for central compressed-air generation, energy-efficient pumps) contribute to further energy saving. The measures are supported by efficient control of the electric power supply.

An energy management system has been implemented for the continual reduction of energy consumption. The workforce in the plants is being sensitized to this initiative through a variety of measures. These include generally visible tips for energy saving and training courses in the production facilities. The employees make a substantial contribution to energy saving through their energy awareness and their innovative ideas. More detailed information can be found in the »Non-Financial Report« section of this Annual Report. 

Innovation and safety