The world’s top automotive brands have convened in Detroit’s Cobo Center this week for the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS).
While the focus will largely be on new vehicle and concept unveilings until the show’s conclusion on January 27, the 2019 NAIAS is taking place after another year full of major investments and moonshot-like commitments by legacy automakers to expand their offerings of electric vehicles (EVs) in the coming decades.
But beyond cars, how are the world’s biggest automakers framing their sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) goals?
Here is a breakdown of the latest sustainability and electrification developments from top automakers that are showcasing their vehicles at the 2019 NAIAS in Detroit.
According to its 2017-2018 CSR report, Ford has also begun experimenting with renewable, plant-based materials, including tomato skin, bamboo and algae, in an effort to replace petroleum-based plastics. The company has already been successful in developing and implementing soybean-based foam in its vehicles.
Ford is also making improvements to its manufacturing facilities by continuing to follow past commitments to reduce both water use per vehicle produced by 30 percent by 2020 and operational greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2025.
Under its 2050 strategy, the company has promised to eliminate most, if not all, carbon dioxide emissions in the company’s new vehicles, facilities and manufacturing processes no more than 31 years from now.
In late 2017, however, the Japanese automaker announced that it intends to build 12 new zero-emission vehicles through its partnership with Mitsubishi and Renault by 2022. In doing so, the Mitsubishi-Nissan-Renault alliance intends to make a €10 billion ($11.5 billion) investment to develop new powertrains and electric technologies.
Beyond investment, Nissan has also developed Nissan Sustainability 2022, which the company says is centered around “realizing a zero-emission, zero-fatality society” through the elimination of any potential carbon dioxide emissions and fatalities caused by its new vehicles.
While the company is estimating that models with “heavy electrification” will comprise just 15 to 20 percent of sales, FCA has committed itself to sustainability by aligning with 11 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In doing so, the Italian and American automaker is aiming to lessen the environmental impact across the design, sales, production, usage and end-of-life cycles of its vehicles.
Named one of CR Magazine’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens of 2018, GM says it is making safety and zero emissions the focus of its sustainability efforts while also maintaining a broad alignment with all 17 of the U.N. SDGs across its global operations.
In addition to its adoption of EVs, Volkswagen is also in the middle of reinventing itself as a corporate citizen following its 2015 emissions scandal.
In 2016, Volkswagen established TOGETHER — Strategy 2025 in order to better its customer and employee relations, competitive profitability and impact on the environment. And the company’s shift towards electrifying its entire portfolio by 2030 will undoubtedly play a major role in achieving these objectives.
Despite its lack of EVs, the Japanese company, according to its 2018 sustainability report, still has lofty sustainability goals like its competitors, including reducing carbon dioxide emissions in its products by 30 percent by 2020. As part of its 2030 Vision plan, Honda will also aim to electrify two-thirds of all automobiles by 2030 with a broader goal of halving company-wide carbon emissions measured against a “fiscal year 2000 baseline.”
Image credit: NAIAS 2019
Samuel Northrup is a marketing intern for 3BL Media. He is currently attending Utica College, where he is working toward a degree in journalism while serving as editor in chief of his college’s newspaper, The Tangerine. When he’s not pulling all-nighters studying or copy editing, Samuel enjoys cheering for his favorite football team, the Buffalo Bills.