Johannes Neft, ŠKODA AUTO Board Member for Technical Development, explains: “We aim to play a pioneering role in the area of sustainability. We are taking a holistic approach to this issue, and we are addressing much more than just the CO2 emissions of our vehicle fleet; we are also focusing on researching and using ecologically sourced materials and investigating, for example, how materials such as coconut fibres or rice husks can be used in the future.”
ŠKODA AUTO has already applied for a patent on one material that is ideally suited for use in the interior of its vehicles; the car manufacturer uses a special process to dye sugar beet pulp to create design accents in the interior. The car manufacturer obtains the material directly from the town of Dobrovice, not far from its headquarters in Mladá Boleslav. This avoids long supply chains and optimises the CO2 footprint.
ŠKODA AUTO has obtained another sustainable material from the reed miscanthus: The fibres can be processed and used for the door trim, for example. Organic residues from production make excellent ecological raw materials, as they can be processed further without the need for additional resources. This reduces the requirement for industrially produced raw materials.
From raw material to the vehicle: a walk-through OCTAVIA demonstrator
In partnership with the Technical University of Liberec, ŠKODA AUTO is continuously working on innovative and sustainable materials that can be used in vehicle production. ŠKODA AUTO is trialling new basic materials in an OCTAVIA specially prepared for this purpose. The floor and right-side panel of the so-called ‘demonstrator’ have been removed to give designers and engineers an unobstructed view of the interior. This is where they process the new materials and test them for feel and fit to give them an accurate picture of which eco-materials are suitable for use in series production models. Door panels and vehicle pillars are finished using miscanthus-based fabric, and sugar beet shavings are used in the door panels and on the dashboard.
ŠKODA AUTO has designed its vehicle production to be as sustainable as possible: for example, 30 per cent of the seat covers in the Design Selection ‘Lodge’ for the ŠKODA ENYAQ iV are made from 100% new wool, which is certified in accordance with the strict requirements of the Woolmark Company. The remaining 70 per cent of the fabric is made of polyester from recycled PET bottles. The covers offer a unique feel and ensure outstanding seating comfort. ŠKODA also pays particular attention to sustainable leather production; the cognac-coloured leather of the Design Selection ‘ecoSuite’ is tanned using an extract from olive leaves.
Another option for the use of renewable raw materials is the regenerative fuel HVO, to which the diesel engines of ŠKODA vehicles will be converted from model year 2022. Pure HVO is already available in Sweden and Finland and is produced from various renewable sources. Using these fuels can reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90 per cent.