New car concept TU/ecomotive reduces total CO2 emissions during production process by a third

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Eterna is TU/ecomotive’s modular car. Photo: Astrolads
Eterna is TU/ecomotive’s modular car. Photo: Astrolads
Eterna consists of two separate parts with two different life cycles.

In the Netherlands, the average car goes to the scrapyard after just under 20 years, according to sector organization Auto Recycling Nederland. By looking differently at the construction of a car, student team TU/ecomotive from Eindhoven University of Technology has found a way to extend the lifetime of cars and ultimately reduce total CO2 emissions during the production process by a third. How? By building the vehicle from two separate parts and approaching it as two separate life cycles. The result is the modular car Eterna, with which the students will tour Western Europe.

Most of the materials in a car are still (far) from being depreciated after 20 years, yet the average car is heading toward the scrapyard by then. This is why the students designed Eterna so that certain parts can remain in the vehicle, rather than being recycled before the end of their life cycle. This ensures that their optimal lifespan is utilized.

As a result, significant cuts can be made in the overall production process. TU/ecomotive calculated in their sustainability report that Eterna saves 20 tons of CO2 in total production costs compared to the average car. This is roughly equivalent to what 800 trees annually extract in CO2 from the atmosphere. In total, this represents a reduction in CO2 emissions during the manufacturing process of about one-third.

How it works? Eterna consists of a bottom for long-term use and a replaceable top. The bottom includes long-life components such as the ladder frame chassis, batteries and motor. In addition, the replaceable top includes materials with a shorter lifespan, such as interior fabrics and safety features (e.g., digital side mirrors and cruise control).

Thinking differently

TU/ecomotive wants to use this concept to inspire the automotive industry and make them think differently about the development and use of cars. "The earth does not offer unlimited resources, so more efficient use of materials is the solution," clarifies Stijn Plekkenpol, team manager of TU/ecomotive.

"If we start to see cars no longer as one entity, but as two separate life cycles, that is actually a system change," Plekkenpol summarizes the concept. "For the consumer, however, little will change. TU/ecomotive envisions a system where cars are managed centrally and the consumer can lease a vehicle. The leasing company ensures that the consumer has an ’up-to-date’ vehicle; every 5 years small updates are made in the top end, every 20 years the entire top end is replaced, while the bottom end remains largely the same. In other words, a subscription model."


The team is going to show their concept from mid-August in several countries, including Germany, Belgium, and Italy. They will talk to the automotive industry, visit universities, and attend numerous events. The starting point is NEMO, the science museum in Amsterdam, where the car will be on public display. They will also visit Ford and Ferrari, among others, and the IAA Mobility Exhibition in Munich, one of the largest mobility events in the world.

TU/ecomotive has been developing sustainable car concepts for years. Last year, the students made headlines with , their sustainable electric passenger car that captures more carbon dioxide (CO2) than it emits via a special filter.