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Bloomberg: Toyota Ranks Last in Top 10 Carmakers for Decarbonization Efforts

Published September 8, 2022

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The article below is sourced from Bloomberg Wire Service. The views and opinions expressed in this story are those of the Bloomberg Wire Service and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of NADA.

Japan’s three biggest carmakers rank the lowest among global auto companies when it comes to decarbonization efforts, according to a study by Greenpeace, as the climate crisis intensifies the need to shift to zero-emission vehicles.

While the European Union has taken steps to ban the sale of new combustion-engine vehicles by 2035, and China has boosted its share of battery-powered electric cars, the largest automakers in Japan -- Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. -- have been slower to respond, the environmental advocacy group said in a statement Thursday.

Toyota scored the lowest among top 10 producers for a second year running. Zero-emission vehicles made up just 0.18% of its total sales last year versus General Motors Co. at 8.18%.

Toyota, the world’s biggest carmaker, has hastened its push to electrify more of its lineup even though it sees hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell cars as part of a greener future. The Japanese automaker last month pledged to invest up to 730 billion yen, or around $5.6 billion, to boost electric car battery production in Japan and the US as consumer demand for cleaner transport rises.

“Traditional automakers have been relatively slow to embrace zero-emission vehicles across major markets,” Greenpeace said. Particularly, the three Japanese carmakers “have made little progress toward increasing the portion of zero-emission vehicles on the road.” Toyota also lags in supply chain decarbonisation, Greenpeace said.

The ranking of Toyota’s domestic peers Nissan and Honda fell three notches to 8th and 9th respectively, according to Greenpeace’s analysis.

Toyota said in a statement that “it is our hope and mission to reduce CO2 emissions as much as we can, and as quickly as possible.”

“In this diversified world, in an age where we do not know what the correct answer is, it is difficult to make everyone happy with only one option,” the automaker said. “That is why Toyota will continue to make every effort possible to offer as many options of BEVs and other multi-powertrains to our customers around the world.”

Toyota has also said it will achieve carbon neutrality at all its plants by 2035. “We continue to promote the introduction and daily improvement of innovative technologies and the introduction of renewable energy and the use of hydrogen. We are introducing 100% renewable electricity at all plants in Europe and South America,” it said.

Nissan didn’t comment on the report but said more broadly it “aims to become a truly sustainable company, driving toward a cleaner, safer and more inclusive world.” Nissan also noted that it had contributed to the democratization of EVs, with the launch of the Nissan Leaf in December 2010.

Honda declined to comment on the Greenpeace report but said the company plans to take steps to achieve carbon neutrality in 2050.

Scores were based on automakers’ performance in three categories -- combustion engine phase-out (77%), supply chain decarbonization (18%) and resource reduction and efficiency (5%). While targets that specify plans for battery EVs and fuel-cell EVs were assessed, targets including plug-in-hybrid electric vehicle and hybrid electric vehicle plans were excluded.

Beyond Japan, the study concluded that none of the world’s 10 biggest car manufacturers exceeded 9% zero-emission vehicle sales in 2021, meaning they’re not moving away from fossil fuels at a rate sufficient to ensure that the Earth remains within a 1.5 degree Celsius global annual average temperature rise.

It also found that sales of carbon-intensive sports utility vehicles are on the rise with those larger cars accounting for 46% of the global market share of private cars last year, up from 42% in 2020. SUVs consume on average about one quarter more energy than medium-size cars and contribute substantially to the auto industry’s demand for steel, Greenpeace said.

Greenpeace also said in a separate study last month that the top three Japanese carmakers were facing the greatest risk from climate change because much of their manufacturing remains concentrated in the island nation.

Toyota, Honda and Nissan will face major challenges ranging from hurricanes and flooding to high temperatures and water shortages in the coming years based on where their factories are located, that report found.

(Updates with Honda comment.)

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