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House of Progress: An automotive approach to sustainability

House of Progress: An automotive approach to sustainability

How can Canada effectively move toward a cleaner future with zero net emissions? How can we utilize innovative and creative ways to advocate for the planet? Where does Audi and the rest of the automotive industry come into this? On October 16th, four expert panelists met in Montreal for the first House of Progress panel in Canada to discuss just this.

Panelists included Julianna Greco, Byron and Dexter Pert and Spencer Reeder. Reeder is the Director of Government Affairs and Sustainability at Audi of America and a climate change expert, with a background in climate science, government policy and geophysics.

According to Reeder, all new Audi cars will be plug-in electric vehicles after 2025, setting aside the internal combustion engine to follow the luxury brand’s goal toward sustainability. With a vision of moving forward and putting the past in its place, Reeder said he was proud of the technology Audi has developed, as climate change demands a sense of urgency that cannot rely on the previous.

In 2021, only 5% of new vehicles purchased in Canada were electric. However, California saw 18% of new vehicles purchased being electric, with similar trends in Europe and other markets across the world. In Norway, The Audi E-Tron was the top-selling vehicle last year, not in electric models but in vehicle sales overall.

According to Reeder, conversations surrounding sustainability and the auto industry will help to reframe what the product is, where it originated from and its legacy. Customers must be curious; ask the questions they do not understand and seek out answers. By now, people are beginning to truly wonder why we haven’t been using electric vehicles longer.

“To address the climate change crisis, it isn’t just one piece of the ecosystem, we have to think about the entire ecosystem,” Reeder said, “Air quality is largely connected to transportation, we don’t only address climate challenge we also address air quality.”

Audi was the first auto manufacturer to use an aluminum alloy that has zero emissions in its melting process, a C02 free melting process that was not being used by anyone else in the auto industry at the time and a major step in the innovation of the sector. According to Reeder, Audi electric batteries will last anywhere from fifteen to twenty years and, thanks to a new partnership between Audi and Redwood materials in Nevada, there is a closed loop recycling program for those batteries when they come to the end of their lifetime.

Supporting the trend toward electric vehicles gives us an amazing opportunity to decarbonize the energy system and the way we generate electricity. In 2015, Audi dedicated a substantial investment into electrification and is now adding an additional $19 billion into their plan by 2026 as they attempt to separate from the industry legacy of using fossil fuels.

“The new fuel is electricity and when our energy grid gets cleaner, all of the vehicles immediately get cleaner,” Reeder explained.

You can learn more about Audi’s steps toward sustainability in Canada’s first House of Progress Sustainability panel here.

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