Some still question Volkswagen’s commitment to building cars that don’t pollute the environment. They remember the lengths the company went to in order to hide its diesel cheating protocols, even going to far as to hire a laboratory to test whether monkeys are actually harmed by breathing diesel exhaust fumes. That may have been the low point of the company’s despicable campaign to sell diesel-powered cars around the world.
Can a leopard change its spots? Maybe. The Volkswagen ID.3 is being manufactured using 100% renewable electricity at the factory in Zwickau and the company has already begun making plans to recycle the batteries in its electric cars when they lose the capacity to power an automobile or provide energy storage. The company is saying all the right things about being a good corporate citizen and steward of the Earth going forward.
Germany’s Auto Sport und Motor reports the company is doing something unusual in the UK. In its large outdoor ads advertising the ID.3, it is using a special paint called Airlite to paint the exterior walls of buildings in London, Manchester, Cardiff, Birmingham, Bristol, and Glasgow. According to Volkswagen, 100 square meters of Airlite paint can filter as much air pollution out of the air as a comparable area with plants. In addition, the paint is made with 100% natural materials. It takes an artist 3 to 6 days to paint one wall. The ads painted with Airlite are expected to be on display for about a month.
The paint manufacturer claims that Airlite can also reduce sulfur oxide, ammonia, and carbon monoxide. How is that possible? The color mixture contains titanium dioxide crystals which break down chemical substances such as NOx, when exposed to light and humidity. When stimulated by sunlight, the titanium dioxide releases an electron to the molecules that make up the water vapor. This transforms the water vapor molecule into a free radical that reacts with pollutants and thus converts them into harmless substances. The painted surfaces should be able to neutralize approximately 20% of the NOx contained in the air in this way.
Volkswagen is going further to reduce its carbon footprint. All the vehicles delivered to the UK are transported in a climate neutral manner, with any carbon dioxide emissions offset with climate protection projects such as the restoration of forests in the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo. It has also created a network of charging stations for its electric car drivers in Great Britain through a cooperative arrangement with Tesco. British charging infrastructure provider Pod Point has equipped more than 250 Tesco supermarkets throughout the UK with charging stations.
So, has the bad old diesel polluting leopard really changed its spots? It appears that it has. Unlike many of its peers both in the automobile industry and in other economic sectors, it is not only talking the talk, it is walking the walk by working to lower emissions throughout its supply chain, manufacturing process, and delivery network. Once the poster boy for bad corporate behavior, it is now a model for other companies to follow. Well done, Volkswagen.