The sustainable evaluations need large investments in researching the managerial and technical skills along with bringing innovations in the automobile industry. However, it needs a long period of time before these measures are adapted with the production paradigm. The European automobile industry has faced several environmental issues for many years now. The automobile industry has been struggling for quite a long time because of the new challenges that the entire industry is facing. There are numbers of environmental issues such congestion, air pollution, jam etc. These factors have led to the big players of the industry thinking twice before they fix their goals and objectives and the marketing ventures (Schöggl, Baumgartner and Hofer 2017). Therefore, as an ethics and sustainability consultant, I will discuss the major sustainability challenges that the automobile industry against the backdrop of a major European car manufacturing company, Rolls Royce and recommend effective measures for adapting in the next fifty years by the company and the entire industry as well.
From the very beginning of the 20th century, several propulsion technologies started developing within the Western world. Electric cars started entering the market, crop-based and fossil fuel based cars started getting manufactured and it came to the global market for the approval of customers (Abduaziz et al. 2015). Other than the electric cars, the vehicles using gasoline oil and fossil diesel came dominating the roads. Eventually the consumers developed interest for these alternative technologies such as hybrid and electric vehicles and its demand started increasing mostly in countries such as Japan, USA and Europe (Sukitsch, Engert and Baumgartner 2015). As soon as 21st century began, the hybrid vehicles were a reality for the automobile industry. If the success of bringing alternative technologies can be analysed, it can be seen that there are multiple reasons that contribute to it. The first and foremost reason that contributes to the change towards a sustainable future of the automobile industry is that the fundamental sense behind the proliferation and environmental innovation emphasizing the automobile sector. The visible and immediate profits of mobility are a major attraction of the contemporary society which also involves greater width and breadth within the commercial and technological attention for moving goods and people for the best possible utilitarian value (Al-Oqla et al. 2015). However the costs that are associated with mobility tend to be neglected most of the times for maintaining the sound development. However, while bringing a sustainable change, the automobile industry has faced several challenges. Major such challenges are discussed below.
Key sustainability challenges faced by Automobile industry
As a whole the global automobile industry makes millions of trucks and cars each year along with employing millions of individuals all around the world. It is quite evident that the global automobile industry has a significant part to play within the international market and it also has a huge impact on several other economic sectors in the world (Al-Oqla and Sapuan 2014).
Increasing usage of vehicles run by synthetic fuels:
The automobile industry is also a large market for the steel industry, right after the construction sectors as the automobile industry. There are huge amount of steel required for producing the vehicles. Other than this industry, petrochemical, aluminium and glass industries are also dependent on the automobile industry. Therefore the usage of these materials in automobile industry is also increasing in a rapid pace as well. Each year approximately seventy million cars enter the international automobile market. This is the major reason that the automobile industry has become a continuous supplier of the services and goods (Dunne et al. 2016). For every household in the first world countries, it is the second most prioritized buy after a residence that eventually makes automobile industry more significant in the global market. Therefore, following the mass manufacturing of cars, there have also been introductions of motor vehicles which run on alternative or synthetic fuels leading to a fast increase of the environmental pollution, congestion, CO2 emissions and several major diseases such as lung cancer (Salvado et al. 2015). Therefore, this has led the global automobile industry adopting, changing, mending and implementing measures for the betterment of the world environment for dealing with this challenge.
Usage of conventional ignition engine:
The conventional internal ignition engines had only made sense in financial purpose when the fuels were plentiful and cheap and the major impacts of burning fuels and environmental pollutions were not understood by the society. With the beginning of 20th century, the electric vehicles had emerged and became immensely popular. However they have been declined after some point of time due to their low speed. However oil as a fuel still accounts for more than ninety five percent of the international transportation (Habidin et al. 2015). It is also responsible for more that thirteen percent of the international green house gas emission. Using oil as fuel causes immense environmental damages as the internal combustion engines are accountable for the major share of air pollution (Jasinski, Meredith and Kirwan 2015). Along with huge emission of carbon dioxide, the motor vehicles also generate several hazardous chemicals such as sulphur oxide, nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide. It should be mentioned that the global automobile industry has been capable of bringing various technologies for trying to limit the harmful chemicals, but transportation utilizing the fossil fuels have not been able to eliminate the emission of such harmful elements.
Unsuccessful targets of carbon emission:
There are regulators all around the globe which have been trying to set the target of emissions of major harmful gasses such as nitrogen oxide, hydrocarbons, sulphur oxide, particle matters and carbon monoxides. However different regions of the world have set different targets and regulations for such harmful emissions, but the overall target and message is crystal clear for the entire industry that it requires to curb the emission amount drastically in order to save the world and build a sustainable future (Wells 2017). In this purpose, the European automobile industry has been the most advanced. There has been a fixed target for the year 2020 which indicates that any car that is coming in the market can emit maximum of ninety five grams of carbon dioxide each km. For the year 2015, the European automobile industry has fixed the target for 27% which was a straight 50% reduction from the emission level of 2010. The targets for sulphur oxide and nitrogen oxides had also been agreed as per the Gothenberg protocol (Nieuwenhuis, Vergragt and Wells 2017). The industry has also targeted to reduce the emission level within the year 2020. It also aspires reducing the emission of sulphur oxide by 59% and nitrogen oxide by 42% along with reducing the emission of dangerous pollutants at the same time. However, the targets are difficult to meet for several vehicles using traditional engines and fossil fuels.
Not only the European automobile industry, but other countries have also taken effective measures for dealing with the major sustainability challenges. The automobile industry of USA has fixed their target for emission of carbon gas till 109 grams for each km within the year 2025 which makes their carbon emission level of 2010 reducing almost to half (Tukker et al. 2017). This figure of changing rate is quite remarkable; however it also implies that the American automobile industry has the least motivated targets on an international basis. Japan, China and other countries in Asian continents have set their targets resembling to the European car industry (Pinkse, Bohnsack and Kolk 2014). However the automobile industry will only be able to meet these targets if they find sustainable alternatives for the traditional fuels and engines.
The graph shows that most countries around the world have set their targets for next few years according to the targets of European automobile industry. These targets also indicate towards the significant challenges for the automobile industry and its investors. The rate of change in curbing the harmful emissions also requires picking up the pace because the innovative and new technologies are also required to become accustomed in the market (Hahn et al. 2015). These technologies are the most significant ones as these tend to address the major issue with the energy loss and internal combustion engine.
Loss of Energy:
Scientifically the most primary issue with the internal combustion engine is its major lack in converting the energy. Figures show that nearly about 18 to 25% of energy coming from the fuel of the cars tends to convert in the energy that helps the car move.
This graph demonstrates that only 18 to 25% of the energy coming from the fuel of the car is utilized for driving the car; therefore there is a huge amount of energy loss. Therefore it can also be indicated that while the combustion engine is producing the poisonous gases and pollutants, most of the fuel part is not even being utilized for powering the car. The lost energy is a major challenge for the automobile industry along with the requirement for reducing the emission of carbon and other harmful pollutants (Shafie-Khah et al. 2016). Therefore these have also led the entire automobile industry facing environmental issues if it wants to stick to the conventional diesel and petrol run engines. However with the advancement of technologies, there are several ways of dealing with this issue. The turbo chargers have improved the fuel competence; in addition to that the catalytic converters have also been utilized for removing the harmful gas emissions and drive-train technology helps addressing the issues with wasted energies (Hahn et al. 2015). In the present time, the these technologies have contributed to significant improvements that are being made for the past twenty years, however the industry analysts suggest that for the next twenty to fifty years the automobile industry needs to gather speed for such improvements towards sustainable developments. Rolls Royce has created their sustainability strategy by focusing on the profitable development, innovation and convenience of the customers (Kannegiesser, Günther and Gylfason 2014). However, in order to bring a better future, the company will have to invest more for bringing the technological advancements which will help them improve all the performance aspects and lead to a sustainable future.
Continuously rising emission rate:
Another challenge that the global automobile industry faces that: it is one of such few industries where the rate of emission is always on rise. The main reason behind this is that it is mostly dependent on oil as the fuel and there is a serious lack in finding substitution for this industry (Wilhelm et al. 2016). The energy sectors has a major grip over the renewable energies, however the transportation sector is mostly dependent on the oil consumption.
Along with that the number of vehicles on road is also increasing in a rapid pace in addition to the developments in the larger emerging markets in Latin America and Asia. More cars are now brought to the road which eventually increase the targets for reducing carbon emission and the miles driven; therefore all of these add up to a bigger challenge for the automobile industry.
Electric vehicles as an alternative and its disadvantages:
The global automobile industry has been working on finding effective solutions to such environmental challenges for a long time. A significant and long-term solution to this issue of carbon emission and the ignition engine is the electric cars. The electric vehicles have numbers of major advantages over the conventional engines. Firstly, the electric vehicles do not waste as much energy as the conventional vehicles. These vehicles can convert around 60% energy for powering the cars; therefore it is approximately more three times efficient than any other conventional engines (Casals et al. 2016). Along with that the electric cars do not exhaust any fume or any harmful pollutants such as sulphur oxide or nitrogen oxides. The power of electricity is utilized for recharging these vehicles. The electric vehicles can also utilize the renewable energies such as solar or wind energy; therefore the emissions only take place while stemming the manufacturing procedure. However, while the electric power produced from the conventional energy sources such as gas or coal, there are still emissions of harmful elements. As suggested by Go, Wahab and Hishamuddin (2015) the benefit of using the electric vehicles may vary across countries, however there is still doubt whether the electric cars are providing opportunities considering the environmental perspective. However mostly it has been a well-accepted fact that the extensive adoption of the electric vehicles in addition to considering the increased renewable energy generation can help the industry to achieve its target of reducing carbon emission to a great extent. Other advantages of using electric cars are that these vehicles reduce the cost of fuel drastically and they are quiet too (Zokaei et al. 2016). The luxury electric cars are also capable of providing a nice driving experience. The low cost maintenance has also attracted consumers towards these cars.
The electric vehicles have been an effective measure for the challenges automobile industry has been facing for the past few years. However, there are still issues for adapting the electric vehicles extensively such as its lack of variety and a serious lack in its refuelling infrastructure. Also most of the electric cars have 100 miles range, even some are lower than 48 before the vehicles need to be recharged. The recharging time is longer than a car takes to fill with fuel (Ruff 2015). However the hybrid electric vehicles are still dependent on the internal combustion engines and refuelling. These vehicles cut off emissions to a great extent and improve the fuel efficiency, but these are still incapable of performing that fully like the electric cars. In addition, the LNG and CNG fuelled vehicles also allow the automobile industry to deal with the potential challenges (Casals et al. 2016). Therefore this indicates to the major issue of inconvenience of the consumers. Furthermore until the consumers accept this technology extensively, the car manufacturing organizations are also unwilling for investing in research and development to ensure an infrastructure for easier recharge of the cars. However, Rolls Royce has invested a huge amount for manufacturing electric cars and it is one of the top companies producing electric cars around the world.
Considering the financial situation of the global automobile industry, facts show that the turnover of this industry tends to be distributed amongst trillions of organizations helping them earn a fortune. There have also been significant progresses in the past few years in the automobile industry as it invests a major amount of money for the research and development purpose (Günther, Kannegiesser and Autenrieb 2015). The societal perspective shows that the global automobile industry contributes to millions of individuals to survive all over the world. The production and retailing of the cars involve indirect and direct employment of a huge population. Therefore, as a whole, the global automobile industry is working towards adapting effective changes that makes the world more sustainable. In addition to that, it can be said that considering the rapid pace of changing customer demands and concern for bringing a sustainable future, a major restructuring for this global automobile industry is inevitable. Whereas the larger companies like Rolls Royce should invest more in their research and development department for fetching green revolution and strengthening their existing technological innovations, the small organizations should also invest in research. By deploying their resources according to the need, the companies can make difference for the wider society. More aggressive and creative strategies should be taken for this purpose. In addition to that, it is an unavoidable fact that the technological innovations for dealing with potential challenges of the automobile industry will cause higher costs according to the customer demands (Brook and Pagnanelli 2014). Therefore larger companies such as Rolls Royce should emphasise on design, manufacture and market their vehicles in accordance to the consumer demand as well. The organization should also design their strategies considering the long term betterment of the wider community.
Recommendations from an Ethics and Sustainability Consultant:
Rolls Royce has already been identified as one of the leaders in sustainable business in automobile industry, especially in the defence and aerospace sector. It has been indicated in the company reports that it has been able to become a leading standard indicator for the sustainable business in automobile industry. However, the organization can also adapt some new policies for next fifty years:
- Electric cars have already been on the roads for quite some time. Rolls Royce has also manufactured electric cars. However, as discussed before, the main issue with electric cars is that even if these cars reduce the consumption of oil to a great extent, it increases the gas or white coal consumption (Casals et al. 2016). Therefore Rolls Royce can invest more in researching for bringing new technologies that will not affect the coal or gas consumption. The water powered or hydrogen fuels have been talked about a lot in recent times, but these have not been materialized within greater context. As storing and transporting the hydrogen gas is difficult, it brings unusual concerns for using it as a fuel for cars. Many theorists even indicated that it is doubtful that the automobile industry may not switch to hydrogen fuel anytime soon as it is way too much costly for consumers (Guo and Zhao 2015). Therefore, Rolls Royce can invest more in the research for developing new strategies to bring hydrogen gas as fuel within low cost. If this can be materialized within next 50 years, it can be considered as a huge revolution in the automobile industry. Very less heat will be lost and using hydrogen fuel will also not increase the gas or coal consumption. With proper research and development, the organization should lower the cost which will be helpful for using hydrogen cars on a regular basis.
- Other than electric and hydrogen fuels, the company can also invest for manufacturing low energy engines and tyres that will utilize green technology and save up the rolling resistance which will eventually reduce the use of fuel. The friction free technologies can bring more advancement within the material sciences. If the cars are using better hybrid engines, more competent transmission process, the cars will eventually use lesser fuel that it does in the current times (Lacerda, Xambre and Alvelos 2016). Therefore, if Rolls Royce invests more in bringing such innovations in cars for regular usage, sustainable development will be obtained in a rapid pace. If the trucks, trains and ships use similar technologies for transportation, they can reduce their fuel usage to some extent, may be not on short term process, but in long term fuel usages will be reduced to a great extent.
- The power for transportation has already started its journey towards electric from conventional fuels (Kannegiesser, Günther and Gylfason 2014). Most of the theorists hope that it will come down to binary power in next fifty years. The improved battery technologies in the electric cars have already made them popular in different regions around the world; however, within next fifty years the large companies should work on the transition to the binary powers as the primary source of running the vehicles. Therefore Rolls Royce should invest more in researching and developing such power service. The waste fibres can be used for this purpose as well.
- Within next fifty years, Rolls Royce should also look forward to bringing the hydrogen powered cars that includes artificial intelligence. These cars will be self driven and it will provide various possibilities of having less fumes and carbon emission along with ensuring the customer convenience.
- The theory of the “climate change” refers to the risk of changing climate is dependent upon the cultural worldview and the social interactions that includes the basic beliefs regarding nature and society (Seinfeld and Pandis 2016). Therefore, it indicates that the perception of vulnerable climate and the changing risk tend to influence the acceptability and feasibility of the climate policy making, climate adaptation planning and its implementation. Therefore, the larger companies like Rolls Royce needs to widen its worldviews in terms of treating the environment and culture along with mitigating the climate change and adapting decisions within the community. There are several ways that Rolls Royce can do that. Firstly the firm will have to invest on the community based research on climate by engaging the conceptual framework on the ‘Cultural theory of risk’. The organization can utilize the expert insights from such research for situating the understanding of the community and its favourable response to the impacts on climate. The issues of climate change should be emphasized and regional and global both the priorities should be supported.
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