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Tesla, Mercedes-Benz, BMW: Only three automakers aligned with 1.5ºC EV production needs

"Automakers' substandard electric vehicle plans, and negative advocacy strategies are driving the climate crisis."
Melodie Michel
Tesla, Mercedes-Benz, BMW: Only three automakers aligned with 1.5ºC-aligned EV production needs
Photo by serjan midili on Unsplash

Only three of the world’s 15 largest automakers – Tesla, Mercedes-Benz and BMW – are forecast to produce more than 66% electric vehicles by 2030, the threshold required to meet the International Energy Agency’s 1.5ºC scenario.

This is according to a new InfluenceMap report exposing the contractions between car manufacturers’s sustainability communications and their lobbying activities. Despite actively promoting their electrification work, the majority of them are lobbying against stricter climate policies that would promote the production of electric vehicles (EVs).

Source: InfluenceMap

Tesla leads climate advocacy engagement

Tesla is the highest-scoring company in the ranking, with a Performance Band of B, having submitted regulatory comments supporting ambitious GHG emissions standards in Australia, New Zealand, and the US, as well as zero-emission vehicle mandates in Canada and the UK. 

Mercedes-Benz and BMW scored a C- and a D+ respectively, after both advocating to reduce the ambition of a proposed GHG emission rule by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). BMW also opposed the Corporate Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards update in the US and the EU light-duty CO2 standards for 2030-35.

However, EV production forecasts for these two companies suggest “a future opportunity to positively reform their climate policy engagement strategies in alignment with their relative advantage in electric vehicle development,” says InfluenceMap. Electric vehicles should represent 71% of Mercedes-Benz’ and 69% of BMW’s production output by 2030.

Ford and General Motors get mixed reviews

Ford and General Motors both scored a C for their climate policy engagement. Ford advocated against the UK delaying its initial ICE phase-out to 2035 and supported the EU light-duty CO2 standards for 2030-35, and is forecast to produce 54% electric vehicles by 2030.

The manufacturer was criticised this week for failing to adopt a shareholder proposal from Green Century Capital Management, calling for transparency reports for its aluminium, steel, mineral, rubber, and leather supply chains, despite its sustainable sourcing commitments as part of the First Movers Coalition.

General Motors recently warned that customer demand for conventional ICE vehicles is stalling its progress in reducing carbon intensity, but opposed both the EPA emissions rule and the CAFE standards update. Its 2030 production forecast suggests that EVs will still represent less than half (46%) of sales by the end of the decade.

Japanese automakers most misaligned

Toyota, with a Performance Band score of D, was the lowest-scoring company, found to be opposing climate rules in multiple regions including the US, Australia, Canada and the UK. It is also one of the companies with the lowest proportion of forecast EV production, at 29%.

Another three Japanese automakers are at the bottom of InfluenceMap’s ranking: Suzuki, Honda and Mazda – all which received a D score for opposing climate regulations. Their EV production forecasts are also the lowest, at 10% for Suzuki, 24% for Honda and 30% for Mazda.

Honda announced last month that it would invest US$11 billion in a new EV and battery plant in Ontario, Canada, which is set to produce 240,000 EVs and 36 gigawatt-hours of batteries a year from 2028.

Ben Youriev, Director at InfluenceMap said: "Automakers' substandard electric vehicle plans, and negative advocacy strategies are driving the climate crisis. Without an immediate gear change from them and their industry associations to reform their climate policy engagement they will continue to weaken and delay climate rules globally, steering the world to the brink. While electric vehicle sales continue to grow globally, negative advocacy from laggard automakers, particularly in Japan, to protect their investments in polluting combustion engine technologies, remains one of the biggest obstacles to science-based climate policy."