A report by Greenpeace Asia criticizes Toyota, Honda and Nissan for their lack of progress on electric vehicles and decarbonization. Worse yet, another report accuses Toyota of anti-climate lobbying.
Quite a volley of green wood than the recent report Automatic Environmental Guide 2022, published by Greenpeace Asia, which ranks the world’s 10 car manufacturers according to their environmental performance. Toyota, Nissan and Honda are once again criticized for their lack of progress on electric vehicles and decarbonization efforts. The three Japanese women are ranked at the back of the field (Toyota 10th, Nissan 8th and Honda 9th), while General Motors climbs to the top of the podium, followed by Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen.
To establish this top 10, Greenpeace relied on manufacturers’ progress in terms of decarbonising the supply chain, phasing out thermal vehicles, reducing resource efficiency.
Of this Japanese trio, Toyota is the NGO’s preferred target. A disgrace to the maker of the Prius, launched almost 15 years ago and a darling of environmentalists. In its report, Greenpeace reveals that 499 out of 500 Toyota vehicles run on fossil fuels. While in 2021 global sales of zero-emission vehicles doubled, Toyotas of this type accounted for just 0.2%, the lowest proportion among the top 10 automakers.
As if that weren’t enough, a second Greenpeace report ranks Toyota as the third global anti-climate lobby, after Exxon Mobil and Chevron. The manufacturer is accused of lobbying against anti-pollution regulations for thermal vehicles and delaying the adoption of electric vehicles.
To Violette Snow, Head of Greenpeace Australia’s Pacific Campaign, “Toyota is a global drag on EVs, lobbying to weaken fuel efficiency standards, washing its image green and promoting misinformation about EVs, while making big profits from polluting internal combustion engines and fossil fuel hybrid cars. (source the boosted).
A delay due to its conservative culture
But, aside from its big car companies, isn’t Japan a victim of its corporate culture? As pointed out by our colleague Peter Jackson from the site electrek, “the country strongly believes in order and hierarchy”. Result, “When it comes to a big change, it’s the leaders who take care of it. And if you look at past speeches by top Toyota, Honda, or Nissan employees, you’ll notice a tendency to think like the saying: ‘If it is not broke, do not fix it’.”*
This way of thinking often results in slow change. And to take the recent example of a statement made by Toyota North America’s Executive Vice President of Sales: “I think the market is not ready [pour les VE]. I think the infrastructure is not ready.”
A desire to reverse the trend
Despite Greenpeace’s skepticism of Honda’s strategy to launch 30 new electric vehicles by 2030 and the fact that electric vehicle pioneer Nissan is behind on sales, stakeholders finally seem to be aware of the backlog. For example, Toyota last week announced a tripling of funding ($3.8 billion) for its electric vehicle battery plant in North Carolina (United States), as well as the transformation of a internal combustion in electric versions.
In turn, Honda will invest $4.4 billion in partnership with LG Energy (LGE) to manufacture batteries for electric vehicles in the United States. The Japanese company has also partnered with its compatriot Hanwa to guarantee the supply of essential metals such as nickel, cobalt and lithium. Nissan, meanwhile, recently introduced its V2G, or Vehicle to Grid, solution to Nissan Leaf owners.
Remember, however, that in denouncing the “lobbying” of manufacturers, Greenpeace is doing exactly the same thing. And that your report does not propose a solution insofar as those known (use of renewable energy for example) do not benefit from viable infrastructure for the moment or that others (nuclear for example) … .annoyances of the environmental lobby. Instead of pointing fingers, it can be interesting to sit at the same table and think of relevant solutions, without always wanting to teach.