Energy crisis: Automakers’ plans to cut gas consumption

Energy crisis: Automakers’ plans to cut gas consumption

ACEA — 2022-10-25

Automotive Industry

As governments announce emergency measures to cut back on industrial use of gas and increase levels of gas in storage, automobile manufacturers across Europe are increasing their efforts to reduce energy usage. ACEA has made an overview of some of the key actions undertaken by its members in the short and medium term.

Energy consumption down over past years

These current actions should be put in the context of the ongoing efforts to improve the energy efficiency of car production over the last 15 years. Indeed – despite increased complexity of vehicle production – the overall total energy consumption from car production has been cut by 23% over the last 15 years, as the latest ACEA data shows.

Potential production losses

While supply chain shortages, particularly those affecting semiconductors, continue to disrupt global manufacturing activities and constrain production, the focus in Europe is switching to the effects of the supply interruption of natural gas from Russia.

According to latest S&P Global Mobility forecast, potential production losses from Europe-based manufacturing plants could reach more than 1m units per Q, starting in the fourth quarter of 2022 through the entirety of 2023.

Quarterly European light vehicle production was forecast to be between 4 and 4.5m units, with moderate growth expected. However, with potential restrictions due to energy rationing, output could be reduced to 2.75-3m units per quarter.

Short-term actions of auto makers

Technical alternatives

  • Replacing natural gas-fuelled combined heat and power plants with green electricity (eg piloted electrically-operated heating stations for aluminium smelting)
  • Developing plans to transport hydrogen to production plants
  • Examining where to add solar panels

Increasing energy efficiency and reducing natural gas consumption

  • Reducing air sink rate
  • Changing the airlock conversion function from fresh air to recirculated air
  • Lowering the ambient temperature
  • Reducing the time paint is kept hot – a process that can account for up to 40% of gas demand

Medium-term actions of auto makers

Technical alternatives

  • Investments in solar, geothermal and hydrogen energy to lower dependence on natural gas
  • Investments to produce energy
  • Switch from gas to electricity and other renewable energy sources

Relocation of manufacturing capacity

  • Reallocate vehicle production to coastal zones of Europe that have access to sea-transported gas supplies
  • Decentralisation of heating processes