17th March 2021

The Circular Economy Can Help Reduce Vehicle Lifetime Emissions by up to 75% by 2030, according to Accenture and the World Economic Forum


The adoption of circular economy practices combined with accelerated electrification in the automotive industry has the potential to reduce carbon emissions by up to 75% and non-circular resource consumption by up to 80% per mile by 2030, according to a report from Accenture (NYSE: ACN), the World Economic Forum, and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.
The report, “Raising Ambitions: A new roadmap for the automotive circular economy,” is based on an Accenture analysis that finds mobility demand — in terms of both passenger miles and predicted vehicle stock — is expected to increase 70% globally by 2030. The automotive industry can prepare for this demand, while also decarbonizing to contribute to limiting global warming to less than 1.5°C, by achieving circularity through the lens of energy, water, waste, materials, vehicle lifetime and use.
“Circular cars will be a key building block to serve the growing mobility demand, while at the same time reducing resource consumption and carbon emissions to a level that is truly sustainable,” said Axel Schmidt, a senior managing director at Accenture who leads its Automotive industry group globally. “While many vehicle manufacturers have already set net-zero goals toward carbon neutrality, the roadmap for automotive circularity must be a core element of this transformation and ambition.”
According to the report, circularity in the automotive ecosystem can be accomplished through four key transformation pathways:

  • Achieve net-zero carbon emissions across the whole vehicle lifecycle (e.g., low-carbon materials and assembly, integration with energy grid.).
  • Enable resource recovery and close material loops (e.g., end-of-life disassembly and reverse logistics, electric vehicle battery recycling).
  • Increase the lifetime of the vehicle and its components (e.g., subscription-based ownership, re-use and remanufacturing at scale).
  • Ensure efficient vehicle use over time and occupancy (e.g., vehicle/mobility on demand).

“The circular car is now on its way to becoming a core component of the automotive future,” said Christoph Wolff, global head of mobility and member of the executive committee at the World Economic Forum. “Companies across the industry must consider how technology and business levers can maximize the resource value of the car, minimize life-cycle emissions and unlock new opportunities along the value chain.”

Accenture, the World Economic Forum, and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development
are showing how the Circular Cars Initiative could help lower mobility
emissions enough to limit global warming.


The primary barriers to circularity in the automotive industry are related to customers and use patterns, business models, production methods and technology, and regulatory hurdles. The report outlines key recommendations to overcome challenges along the automotive value chain:

  • Agree on a common framework for guiding and measuring progress.
  • Realign the profit motive for the automotive ecosystem away from selling products toward selling mobility and other services.
  • Create data standards, reporting frameworks and transparency measures that foster circularity in vehicle design development, life-cycle management and end-of-life processing.
  • Start piloting radical solutions now and target to leapfrog existing product development cycles.
  • Secure policy support for systemic transformation.

The report is the result of Accenture’s work with the World Economic Forum Circular Cars Initiative (CCI), which consists of 40-plus member companies and organizations from the automotive value chain, jointly laying out a systemic approach to automotive sustainability and circularity. The goal of the initiative is to foster collaboration and kick-start a system transformation toward a circular economy.
“The automotive industry along with the mobility sector will have to profoundly change if it is to provide for the forecasted 2.5x fold increase in road transport demand by 2050 at net-zero carbon emissions”, said Thomas Deloison, director of mobility, World Business Council for Sustainable Development. “We believe that the Circular Cars Initiative will help to find the collaborative pathways to accelerate this transformation.”
For more information and to view a copy of the report, please visit: accenture.com/AutoWEFreport.
About the Research
The World Economic Forum and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development formed the Circular Cars Initiative (CCI), which takes a systemic approach to accelerate the transformation to automotive sustainability. It looks at how technology and business levers can maximize the resource value of the car, minimize life-cycle emissions and unlock new opportunities. Within the CCI, 40 companies from the automotive value chain, several research institutes, international organizations, governmental bodies and think tanks are charting the course toward a zero-emission future through new technology, materials innovation, efficient vehicle usage and full life-cycle management. The CCI represents the first organized industry effort to systematically address the opportunities and challenges of circularity, with an eye toward fundamentally remaking automotive value chains and business models.
About Accenture
Accenture is a global professional services company with leading capabilities in digital, cloud and security. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries, we offer Strategy and Consulting, Interactive, Technology and Operations services — all powered by the world’s largest network of Advanced Technology and Intelligent Operations centers. Our 514,000 people deliver on the promise of technology and human ingenuity every day, serving clients in more than 120 countries. We embrace the power of change to create value and shared success for our clients, people, shareholders, partners and communities. Visit us at www.accenture.com
About the World Economic Forum
The World Economic Forum, committed to improving the state of the world, is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation. The Forum engages the foremost political, business and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.

Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic