FROM THE EDITOR: Sustainability hasn't gone away

Welcome to issue number 6 of the just-auto magazine. 

I hope this finds you safe and well. The year is turning out to be a memorable and strange one in so many respects, as we all know. The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is an unprecedented public health crisis that is also wreaking havoc on the global economy and across many industries - including automotive.

While the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis has the auto industry across the world transfixed like never before - and rightly so - other areas of strategic concern for the sector have not gone away (even if they are overshadowed). Sustainability is one of the biggest long-term challenges ahead for the automotive industry as it addresses growing environmental concerns and moves away from burning fossil-fuels.

Automakers are also facing tighter rules on CO2 and noxious emissions, something which is driving moves for greater energy efficiency and, especially, vehicular electrification. Improved energy efficiency, for example in the design of the vehicle structure, can be facilitated by lightweighting techniques that include the use of lighter materials and there are many instances where innovations in materials are coming to market.

Sustainability is about so much more than that though. New bio-materials are being sought and found, sometimes from unlikely sources. There are also hopeful moves to 'design out waste' with the circular economy, thinking as early as possible in the engineering process about product consumption and the re-use of parts, recycling loops. More materials and by-products can be recycled and put to productive use.

Progress is also being made with difficult to recycle items such as batteries. Further, there are projects to boost broader sustainability by putting stored EV battery energy back into the grid – a potential solution to ‘even out’ the variability in grid supply when more electricity is generated from renewable sources.

In this issue, we touch on different aspects of automotive lightweighting, material use and sustainability. We can’t cover it all in the space available, but it is very refreshing to be reminded of just how much innovation, creativity, engineering and thought is being given to some of the great challenges of our time.

Dave Leggett, Editor

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