Future Mobility and Circular Economy

Developments of new products and supply chains to achieve climate neutrality

Globally, a change in mobility and vehicle development has begun. This is driven by legal requirements for drive variants, sustainability, mobility supply requirements, shortages of raw materials and changing supply chains. To survive in the changing market, strategic decisions must be made to secure resources, economic business models and sales markets over the next decades.

New business models from carmakers such as TESLA or NIO are a challenge for the German automotive industry in particular. Legislative requirements relating to sustainable drive variants and changing mobility offerings, as well as strongly fluctuating raw material prices and difficult long-term availability of raw materials, are forcing producers to rethink.

Regarding to drive variants, all new developments, whether fully electric, fuel cell, or hybrid variants, have one thing in common — the electric motor. In recent years, Fraunhofer IFAM has been developing cast coils which make it possible to build highly efficient electric motors. At the same time, the use of copper or aluminum for coils opens up new possibilities for manufacturing motor variants exploiting economies of scale by using many carry-over parts, or completely eliminating the need for copper.

Circular economy is a must

Key challenges for all manufacturers will be the issues of sustainability and CO2 neutrality. To this end, Fraunhofer IFAM is working on closedloop systems for automotive production. The aim is to move away from the previous linear production chains of raw material generation, production, use, and disposal and replace it with a circular economy, where less raw materials and energy are required and waste becomes a raw material.

Concepts for reducing the diversity of materials to simplify recycling, for design guidelines for the use of components or subsystems, e.g., one battery housing in several vehicle generations, and for the reuse of the utilized material are the focus of research work at Fraunhofer IFAM.

If we assume that the future product will no longer be the hardware, but the benefit, i.e., mobility, the hardware will remain the property of the manufacturer and thus become a raw material pool. Digitization of the material flows in production and use, as well as the development of international standards in recycling management will help to use this raw material pool and thus achieve raw material sovereignty.