Zero.50 – Efficient development pathways towards a climate-neutral vehicle fleet 2050

Client: Volkswagen AG, Wolfsburg

Duration: From 2018 to 2020


Project Description

The legal framework and objectives to reduce CO2 emissions are leading to new challenges in the automotive industry. As it stands, automobile manufacturers need to ensure the transition towards CO2-neutral mobility by 2050. Yet, many uncertainties exist which technologies should be deployed and how mobility concepts, such as innovative mobility services, will have to change. This calls for the identification and efficient allocation of expedient measures to achieve CO2-neutral mobility. In the research project "Zero.50 – Efficient development pathways towards a climate-neutral vehicle fleet 2050", approaches to support decisions related to the design of the future powertrain mix in the automotive industry are developed. By making use of simulation and optimization models, feasible transition pathways towards a climate-neutral vehicle fleet in the year 2050 should be identified from a manufacturer's point of view.




Project Partners


Initial Situation and Problem

CO2 emissions and other greenhouse gases are considered to be increasingly responsible for climate change. Since 1990, global CO2 emissions have risen by around 63% (source: Global Carbon Project). Besides electricity and heat generation (approx. 42%, source: IEA), the main sources of large quantities of CO2 emissions are industrial production (approx. 19%, source: IEA) and the transport sector (approx. 24%, source: IEA). As a consequence, policy increasingly strives to reduce CO2 emissions of the transport sector, which comes along with new challenges for the automotive industry.

In order to achieve CO2-neutral mobility, a wide variety of measures is available. From a manufacturer's point of view, different levers can be identified such as reducing the energy requirement for vehicle operation, increasing the efficiency of the energy supply of existing powertrain technologies, developing new powertrain technologies and innovative fuels, using driver assistance systems to support ecological driver behaviour, or developing new mobility services. These measures differ in their technological maturity, their development effort, their investments, their market potential, and their contribution to reduce CO2 emissions. Furthermore, various restrictions such as limited efficiency of internal combustion engines, limited availability of raw materials, technological dependencies, long vehicle service lives, and legal framework conditions must be taken into account. Due to the time-varying behaviour of all of these factors as well as the manifold uncertainties and interdependencies resulting in a complex and dynamic system, decisions of optimal intertemporal allocation of measures are of utmost importance. Accordingly, the design of the future powertrain mix in the automotive industry requires approaches for decision support using simulation and optimization models in order to ensure the achievement of a climate-neutral vehicle fleet in 2050.


Objective and Approach

The objective of the project is to identify efficient and effective transition pathways in order to achieve a climate-neutral vehicle fleet by 2050. In addition, the feasibility of the transition pathways will be examined, taking into account the market behaviour as well as the manifold factors influencing the market.

To this end, different qualitative and quantitative methods are applied. After the identification and analysis of suitable measures, a System Dynamics model is developed to investigate the cause-effect relationships within the dynamic complex system. Based on the simulation model, economically efficient transition pathways towards a climate-neutral vehicle fleet in 2050 are derived by means of an aggregated mathematical optimization model.