Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) programs grew throughout the corporate world in 2021. As ESG became a more central part of many organizations, auto manufacturers continued delivering and expanding their sustainability reporting practices. Automakers now regularly release annual sustainability reports highlighting their key initiatives, achievements, and projections. As these reports mature, companies report their findings and cover many of the same issues. Yet, there are still enough differences that make these reports hard to analyze on the surface. CAR has compiled a sustainability database identifying North American, European, and Asian manufacturers that have released reports in 2021. This sustainability database synthesizes these ESG topics across all companies. Since there is no universal standard for documenting sustainability achievements, a database of this nature can bridge the gap between the inconsistencies across these reports. The companies included in the database are Ford, Stellantis, GM, Toyota, VW, BMW, Volvo, Hyundai, Kia, Tesla, and Mercedes-Benz.
CAR identified several overarching sustainability topics, including electrification plans, environmental targets, waste mitigation, fuel initiatives, partnerships, data practices, emissions, materials, new mobility, safety, suppliers, water, and climate-conscious practices. 38 sub-items identified under these broader topics allowed CAR to highlight specific achievements and targets. These sub-items make it possible to observe carbon neutrality targets, zero waste to landfill goals, projected electrification portfolios, operational water use data, and battery recycling initiatives, to name a few. The sustainability database answers how each company tackles sustainability in a discernible manner.
All the companies analyzed provided achievements or targets across most sub-items. In each of these reports, there were well-defined goals for sub-items like electrification, supplier emissions, and battery recycling programs. These sub-items were covered in previous reports but gained further detail in this year’s iteration of reporting. Additionally, the 2022 sustainability database was an update to the first database released in April 2021, allowing for a comparison of how these companies grew their sustainability programs. For example, electric vehicle goals became more aggressive in the 2022 reports compared to 2021. All but Tesla provided information on fuel cell initiatives as only half did in the previous year, and all but one manufacturer provided information on tailpipe emissions compared to only half in 2021.
These reports will continue to grow and become more transparent throughout the coming years. However, this database should provide a coherent roadmap while sustainability reporting is still nascent. The CAR sustainability database intends not to compare companies and their goals. Instead, it can clarify unwieldy sustainability reports ranging from 100 to over 300 pages in varying structures. The database provides insight into 38 material sustainability topics and paints a picture of how each auto manufacturer aims to respond to these critical issues. These fundamental issues are evolving, as are the sustainability reports, so documents of this nature will grow with the times. As the climate crisis evolves and the automakers’ respective sustainability initiatives mature, CAR will continually develop and update the database so these initiatives will be readily available in an understandable manner.
Environmental sustainability is a common goal that necessitates unity. Unity in sustainable practices requires an understanding of what sustainability means. CAR will further its commitment to sustainability by providing clarity on sustainability practices. Future collaboration with OEMs and suppliers is essential in developing a shared understanding of sustainability practices. CAR will continue to engage with relevant stakeholders and facilitate discussions. This engagement will enhance a general view of sustainability. The sustainability database is an early step in helping the industry understand these shared goals. CAR will continue to work to ensure an industry-wide understanding of such a significant issue through discussions, roundtables, research, and databases.
To learn more about accessing CAR’s sustainability database, please visit our subscriptions page.
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