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How Can Suppliers Support the Car Industry in Reducing Emissions?

Could suppliers play a pivotal role in helping the car industry, or the automotive industry, to reduce their emissions, despite the world transitioning to the use of electric cars?
Ecology News
cars in traffic

Even with some states, such as California, starting to ban the future purchasing of gasoline powered cars in attempts to reduce emissions in the midst of skyrocketing climate change – the car industry remains a culprit to excessive emissions, and it would be a team effort to reduce those emissions. Ultimately, suppliers are a major component and contributor to the excess emissions created by the car industry. 

Transportation in the U.S. accounts for almost a third of the total greenhouse gas emissions produced by the U.S., and given that most Americans across the country who don’t live in major cities like New York rely on cars to get to where they need to go – it’s clear that the car industry and their suppliers need to create a shift towards the manufacturing of more sustainable transportation. 

👉 How could suppliers help to support the car industry in reducing emissions and promoting the eco-friendly manufacturing of cars?

What is the Car Industry?

The car industry, more commonly referred to as the automotive industry, accounts for all companies that deal with the manufacturing of vehicles – many of which are thought of as commercial vehicles purchased by the average citizen for daily use.

For instance, the car industry is responsible for the manufacturing of major components of an automotive vehicle – such as creating the engines and bodies of cars, the development of tires, batteries, and even fuel to power the car. All of these can be exceptionally carbon intensive, and even more so – the car industry isn’t responsible for only the creation of your typical four-door sedan, but for other automobiles such as trucks, vans, and sport utility vehicles.

However, it is important to note that large trucks, such as those used for deliveries, aren’t as important as cars to be purchased by the average driver. 

Given the era of electric cars and self-driving automobiles are approaching society fast, many may view the idea of rectifying the business operations for those in the car industry still producing gasoline powered vehicles to be a moot point. However, on the contrary – it is as imperative as ever given Americans used a whopping 135 million gallons of gasoline in 2021 alone.

The new climate bill may start to incentivize Americans to purchase electric cars, given they will be eligible for a tax reduction, but with skyrocketing inflation – Americans are still more likely to purchase used, gasoline powered vehicles before dropping a pretty penny on a brand new Tesla. 

This is precisely why breaking down the source of emissions throughout the production process of a vehicle in the car industry is more imperative than ever before.

silve suv in forest

Why are suppliers a major contributor to the emissions created by the car industry?

When thinking about how suppliers correlate to the emissions produced by the car industry, it’s easier to understand with an alternate analogy – such as cooking a recipe to cater to a different diet.

Let’s say someone wants to make a traditional cheesecake recipe into a plant-based version without the use of dairy. In a plant-based cheesecake, the end product is meant to be similar – but all of the ingredients inevitably have to change: such as the butter, cream cheese, sour cream, and eggs. After swapping out many of these ingredients, the end result is a cheesecake with less cholesterol and fat. The actual recipe for creating the cheesecake never changed, just the type of ingredients and how they were sourced – and the same should go for those in the car industry seeking to reduce their emissions. 

It isn’t necessarily the actual production line that is the most carbon intensive, but the components used to create the vehicle in the first place that contribute to excessive emissions over the course of the vehicle’s life.

For instance, almost 80% of the greenhouse gas emissions created by gasoline powered cars come from their exhaust pipes – something many won’t think about when they start their research to buy a new or used car.
black suv driving on street with headlights

How could suppliers help the car industry to reduce their emissions?

There are a lot of ways that suppliers could help to reduce the emissions ultimately produced by the car industry. For instance, suppliers could seek to produce their materials with the use of renewable energy sources such as through the use of wind turbines or solar panels. In addition to this, suppliers providing manufacturing companies in the car industry with raw materials should strive to improve their recycling habits – as much of the greenhouse gas emissions created due to plastic are caused by recycled elements sitting in landfills when they should be recycled.

If suppliers are able to, one of the most efficacious ways to help the car industry to reduce emissions would be by investing in carbon-free electrolysis to extract aluminum for car parts – which would not only help to reduce emissions, but could also prove cost effective over time. 

However, one of the most carbon intensive parts to manufacture in the car industry are the car batteries. Did you know that starting the engine to a car is the most energy intensive part of driving? It isn’t cruising down route 66 that contributes to the most carbon emissions – it’s starting your car alone. The excess emissions created by batteries could be mitigated if suppliers transitioned to producing these batteries with a low-carbon grid mix. 

One of the most challenging areas for suppliers to rectify might be the steel sector – which is used for the main body of the car: such as the trunk, doors, and panels. Therefore, the best way that suppliers could compensate for the additional emissions created through steel components of car materials is to invest in a carbon capture and storage system to help absorb excess carbon dioxide. 

However, all hope isn’t lost – suppliers could make an effort to reduce the environmental impact of the production of steel by creating a blend of manganese, molybdenum and silicon.

Are the suppliers that car companies choose fully responsible for the excessive emissions created by the car industry?

mechanical parts and gears

What are some of the most carbon intensive parts of manufacturing in the car industry?

The thing about cars, is that just like mobile phones – they are becoming smarter, and ultimately subject to more emissions in both production and consumption.

In other words, consumers are getting used to cars being equipped with novel technologies that weren’t developed into the typical commercial car before: such as USB charging devices inside cards, complex speaker systems, bluetooth connection, GPS systems, internet connectivity, cameras for backing up and blinking alerts for when a driver attempts to merge lanes – all of these artificial types of intelligence were never seen as a prerequisite for buying a car before. Now, users and potential car buyers not only expect them, but prefer to buy cars with all of these additional features – even if it means those additional features add up to more greenhouse gas emissions.

The tech industry alone is responsible for around 5 to 10 of global greenhouse gas emissions – meaning that the automotive industry is regularly contributing to it.

As an ex-driver in the United States, I can confirm that I was the last of my friends to drive a car without a rear view camera or blinking lights to tell me if someone was about to hit my car. 

Have you ever stopped to wonder how your car has the power to charge your devices on the go? If the engine is on, the ultimate source of power is the fuel, and even worse – if the car is turned off, the source of power is the battery. Batteries are one of the greatest contributors to excessive emissions in the car industry, not because of the manufacturing process – but because their lithium-ion batteries could cause massive fires if overheated, and not only compromise the environment, but put human health at risk.

This is because the lithium-ion batteries used in cars could release harmful substances like carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide. That’s why when caught in a snowstorm or icy road, people will stall turning the heat on or charging their cell phone – because it could deplete their reserves of fuel when they have no opportunity to fill up their cars.

Furthermore, that’s why many drivers remain paranoid about making sure that things like overhead lights and headlights are turned off – as it can easily deplete their car battery and result in an engine that won’t start the next morning.

gps on phone

The use of technology in cars nowadays is often overlooked as being a carbon intensive component to the manufacturing of cars. Separate from these technological advancements, the body of a car and its battery remain the most responsible for excessive greenhouse gas emissions.

What are some other ways that the car industry could reduce emissions?

Some in the technology industry argue that cleaner or electric vehicles won’t do much to reduce the current environmental impact that cars have on current greenhouse gas emissions – as cars still won’t be entirely carbon neutral. However, that doesn’t mean that striving to decrease the dependence on fossil fuels and gasoline powered cars to sustain the car industry won’t make a difference in the amount of emissions the car industry is currently producing. 

Therefore, even if a company in the car industry can’t afford to exclusively produce only electric cars – a great step forward is to offer more hybrid models on the market. This way, the cars will still remain somewhat affordable to buyers and ease consumers in the transition to electric cars – which will eventually become compulsory in some states.

Ultimately, suppliers can still play a pivotal role in helping the car industry to reduce their emissions – but it will require transparency and individual efforts to become more eco-friendly on their own behalf.

What about Greenly? 

If reading this article about how suppliers can support the car industry in reducing emissions has made you interested in reducing your carbon emissions to further fight against climate change – Greenly can help you!

Much of the car industry relies on seeking sustainable suppliers in order to reduce their scope 3 emissions and ensure the ultimate life-cycle of their end product, and Greenly’s got you covered – click here to book a demo and learn more about how we can help you to measure and reduce your various scope emissions. 

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