For many years, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) analyses have played an important role in Group design choices by aiding in the evaluation of the overall environmental impact of materials, components and certain production processes.
LCA is conducted in accordance with ISO 14040 and ISO 14044 and takes into consideration factors relating to energy and other resources consumed in production, use and recycling, as well as waste generation.
As collaborative measurement programs on this topic are more frequently introduced, in today's market, companies must react faster and more effectively to assess the environmental impacts of their products. To this end, in 2013 Centro Ricerche Fiat conducted and completed the first full analysis of a new type-approved vehicle. This study is the most recent in the center's long track record in LCA, an area in which it began working in 1994.
This examination of a Fiat 500L enabled a complete assessment of different engines and relevant scenarios in terms of the environmental impact of logistics processes, together with other life cycle stages, i.e., materials selection, production, vehicle use and end-of-life (including reuse of components and recycling/recovery of materials). This activity will continue in the next few years in order to combine the in-depth knowledge of vehicle components with the specific environmental impact of each stage, leading to the development of new, more environmentally friendly products for the market.
In addition, in 2014 Chrysler Group is expected to integrate LCA analysis by piloting one vehicle through the product development process.
Centro Ricerche Fiat also pursued research into the biopolymers PLA (Polylactide) and PHB (Polyhydroxybutyrate) and into recycled polymers reinforced with natural fibers (for example flax, corn cob and wood dust), with the goal to reduce the environmental footprint of components and the use of non-renewable resources. For example, the MaTeRiA project included an LCA analysis comparing PHB and natural fiber-reinforced (corn cob and wood) and recycled polymers with synthetic polypropylene. Specifically, it proved that a component for the passenger compartment made out of these materials was technically feasible as well as environmentally friendly.