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July 1, 2022

What are the benefits of sustainable EV manufacturing?

Since the popularisation of electric vehicles (EVs) on our streets, conventional thinking has seen EV technology as a viable alternative to traditional, petrol-guzzling vehicles. And while EVs are generally the cleaner option since no emissions are produced whilst they’re running, what about the manufacturing process? Could it be made more environmentally friendly, and if so, who would stand to benefit from this approach? 

Sustainable manufacturing involves making a conscious effort to reduce environmental impacts and promote green practices. This can provide many advantages for companies operating in any industry, but what are the specific benefits of sustainable manufacturing of EVs? 

Reduced strain on natural resources 

The continual rise in demand for EVs is putting a huge strain on the environment, with more raw materials needing to constantly be extracted. Certain materials such as lithium, nickel and cobalt are essential to the manufacturing of electric vehicles. However, extraction processes are typically detrimental to local environments and require vast amounts of energy and other resources to be carried out. 

As such, if car companies were able to reuse existing materials throughout their fleet, this would help to protect the local ecosystems that are damaged by raw material extraction. It could also make the manufacturing process more efficient, creating financial savings which could be passed on to the consumer. 

Competitive advantage 

Research has shown that in today’s society, more and more consumers are attaching greater importance to a company’s sustainability policies when it comes to buying decisions. According to one US report about sustainable construction and manufacturing, 66% of consumers revealed they’d be willing to pay more for a sustainably-produced product. Whilst EVs already offer many eco-benefits, implementing green techniques during the manufacturing process could give one company a greater competitive advantage over rivals in the market, leading to increased sales.

Futureproofing 

As governments across the globe make a collective push towards net zero emissions by 2050, pressure on businesses to promote greener policies is growing. For car companies, implementing these green techniques now will mean they’re ahead of the curve, and won’t face any huge changes further down the line, if and when stricter regulations around emissions and the environment are introduced.

Staff retention 

It’s not just consumers who have shown to have an eco-conscience – workers also like to know their employer is playing their part in the ongoing fight against climate change. In fact, according to one study, 65% of employees revealed that they were more likely to work for a company with strong environmental ethics. This suggests that by cleaning up their operations, car companies will not only be better placed to retain their employees, but they’ll also appeal to a wider pool of potential employees.

EV manufacturing: areas for improvement

There are a couple of priorities that need to be met for the sustainable manufacturing of electric vehicles to take place. These actions include:

  1. NGOs need to partner with vehicle, battery and mining companies. These organisations need to create information platforms that are publicly accessible to share vital information – i.e., demand projects, priorities, concerns – among the other industry players, communities, and governments in neutral, clear terms. Often, public policy in mineral-producing countries is determined by rumour and the peddling of influence. There needs to be a more transparent system of information transmission to increase trust and accountability throughout the supply chain.
  2. Both activists and public officials need to give the various international standards robust teeth and craft stronger incentives to encourage participation – which might include consumer-facing labelling and certification. Additionally, there need to be serious investments made in both consultation and communication with stakeholders located in producer countries.
  3. With the encouragement of the government, industry leaders and stakeholders need to make the effort toward designing and producing better batteries, while also investing in the facilities needed to boost their recycling and reuse.

There are so many benefits to implementing more sustainable manufacturing techniques when designing electric vehicles. Not only will the company themselves feel the benefits, but these could also be passed onto consumers, particularly those who are concerned about sustainability, who in this case make up a large proportion of the target market.

Livista Energy secures funding to set up lithium refinery in UK

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