Energy Efficiency Improvement and Cost Saving Opportunities for the Vehicle Assembly Industry
The motor vehicle industry in the U.S. spends about $3.6 billion on energy annually. In this report, we focus on auto assembly plants. In the U.S., over 70 assembly plants currently produce 13 million cars and trucks each year. In assembly plants, energy expenditures is a relatively small cost factor in the total production process. Still, as manufacturers face an increasingly competitive environment, energy efficiency improvements can provide a means to reduce costs without negatively affecting the yield or the quality of the product. In addition, reducing energy costs reduces the unpredictability associated with variable energy prices in today's marketplace, which could negatively affect predictable earnings, an important element for publicly-traded companies such as those in the motor vehicle industry.
In this report, we first present a summary of the motor vehicle assembly process and energy use. This is followed by a discussion of energy efficiency opportunities available for assembly plants. Where available, we provide specific primary energy savings for each energy efficiency measure based on case studies, as well as references to technical literature. If available, we have listed costs and typical payback periods. We include experiences of assembly plants worldwide with energy efficiency measures reviewed in the report. Our findings suggest that although most motor vehicle companies in the U.S. have energy management teams or programs, there are still opportunities available at individual plants to reduce energy consumption cost effectively. Further research on the economics of the measures for individual assembly plants, as part of an energy management program, is needed to assess the potential impact of selected technologies at these plants.