KOSEL: The Life Cycle-Oriented Open-Source-Platform

The Problem: Disposable instead of reusable

Vehicles cause emissions. Not just once they are on the road, but much sooner, namely (and this applies particularly to electric vehicles) during production. The production of new components is continuously using up the finite resources of our planet.

In the automotive industry, the reason the aim of using a manufactured product for as long and as sustainably as possible tends to fail is because vehicle concepts and their integrated components are not designed to be reusable.

This single use method results in many vehicles being scrapped or exported within less than 15 years.

This means: wasted resources, high costs and a huge carbon footprint.

The Vision: Reusable instead of disposable

If individual parts are designed in such a way that they can be installed and removed as modules, many of the resources used can remain in the cycle for many more years.

The idea of an open source modular design is relevant because:

  • Building new parts starts to fill the vehicle's CO2 rucksack while it is still being produced.
  • Most of the vehicle concepts developed to date do not allow for easy dismantling.
  • The production, use, and disposal of vehicles has a negative impact on the environment.
  • The resources available are finite.

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The solution: Modularize & Reuse

KOSEL is a new kind of extremely long-lasting vehicle platform which makes it possible to produce a wide range of vehicles on the basis of a single, modular architecture.

The advantages:

  • Reuse brings about a significant reduction in CO2 emissions.
  • Reusing individual parts after a vehicle's life cycle has ended is cheaper than producing new ones.
  • Modular components can simply be removed and installed elsewhere - increasing their overall service life.
  • Resources are responsibly conserved.

Open-source interfaces enable the vehicle to be updated at any time.

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The Vision: Reusable instead of disposable

It is easy to label cars as climate polluters: Their production is energy and resource intensive. With the advent of electrification, the focus of the carbon footprint is shifting from the vehicle's active use to its production. Short service life is also an additional problem - vehicles today have a useful life of just a few thousand hours.

However, ensuring that vehicles have as long a service life as possible means that this negative impact on the environment can be reduced. In addition, an extended life cycle is a great advantage not just ecologically, but also in economic terms

The concept of reuse has already become established in many industrial sectors: truck tarpaulins become bags, plastic bottles are turned into shoes and jackets, and old clothes are used to make vehicle insulation. A recycling-oriented open source modular toolkit goes one step further. Here, there is no need for individual components to be put through a recycling process: After a cost-effective remanufacturing process, they can be reused in their entirety. This is achieved, for example, by using corrosion-resistant and low-fatigue materials such as fiber-plastic composites. The components are connected to each other by means of standardized interfaces. This makes the regular production of various new components superfluous, and the problem-free exchange of modules possible.

This type of remanufacturing and reuse represents both a sustainable concept for resource conservation and a sustainable example of circular economy.

The Solution: Modularize & reuse

The "KOSEL" project was carried out by the EDAG Group in cooperation with the following partners: INVENT GmbH, Fraunhofer IWU, Röchling EP, BSMRG GmbH, the Emden-Leer University of Applied Sciences and Dresden University of Technology, and was funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

The innovative recycling-oriented open-source modular solution for a vehicle platform for electric pool vehicles has proved effective at many levels.

With a life cycle of up to a million kilometers and up to 30 years, the CO2 footprint can be significantly reduced. The modular system also makes it possible to put the vehicle to flexible use, either as a delivery truck or to transport passengers.

In the event of a defect or wear and tear, individual components or entire vehicle segments can be easily replaced. This keeps repair costs low. Not producing new parts also contributes to this, resulting in a considerable cost reduction over the total service life of a vehicle and the entire vehicle fleet. This in turn has a positive effect on a fleet operator's ability to compete.

Which leaves the aspect of the positive impact on the environment: In an examination covering three vehicle life cycles in the course of 30 years, the Chair of Energy Economics at the Dresden University of Technology was able to show that significant advantages result if the product life cycle of individual components is extended over several vehicle generations. The comparison dealt with both the different concepts and the possibility of recycling. It should be noted that not all material combinations provide the required service life.

The results speak for themselves: The analysis of the modular system shows a reduction of more than 60 %, in particular as a result of recycling. This shows a distinct advantage for the environment, which can only be realized through circular economy.

In 2023, we received the ATZ Sustainability Award in Automotive in recognition of these results.

Stefan Caba

Head of Innovation Area Sustainable Vehicle Development