Australia’s most popular automaker is lagging behind when it comes to climate credentials, according to a report that ranks the world’s top automakers.
Most important points:
- Manufacturers scored on phasing out combustion engine vehicles, decarbonising supply chains and reducing resources and efficiency
- Toyota was ranked last for the second year in a row, with Honda and Nissan second-to-last and third-to-last
- Electric vehicle industry says ambitious emissions and fuel efficiency standards will boost adoption in Australia
Toyota scored lowest overall for second consecutive year Greenpeace’s annual Automotive Environment Guide for 2022followed by Honda and Nissan, both of which are down three places from last year’s report.
The rankings are based on manufacturers’ progress in decarbonising their supply chains, phasing out internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, and reducing resources and efficiency.
Electric sales in 2021 vehicles more than doubled to more than 5 percent of the world market. However, according to today’s report, that increase was not evenly distributed among all automakers.
In the transition to “zero-emission vehicles” category, companies were ranked based on the share of their total sales that were powered by all-electric or hydrogen fuel cells.
Toyota, whose Hilux model is consistently Australia’s best-selling car, sold the lowest number of all-electric vehicles relative to their total sales, among the top 10 largest auto companies worldwide.
“By 2021, 499 of every 500 vehicles Toyota sold were powered by fossil fuels,” the report said.
Although Toyota sells a significant number of hybrid vehicles, these cars combine an electric motor with a combustion engine and therefore still producing emissions, said Violette Snow, a Greenpeace Australia Pacific campaigner.
“Emission-free vehicles accounted for 0.2 percent of Toyota’s sales in 2021,” Snow said.
At the other end of the scale, electric vehicles accounted for more than 3 percent of the total sales of General Motors, Mercedes, Renault, Volkswagen and Hyundai. According to Greenpeace, more than 8 percent of the vehicles sold by General Motors (GM) were fully electric.
A large majority of GM’s electric vehicles were sold in China, the report said.
Mercedes climbed five places from last year to second in the rankings, but even the best climate-performing manufacturers are still not meeting international climate targets, Ms Snow said.
“At the top are General Motors and Mercedes Benz, but both companies are still continuing to sell fossil fuel vehicles at a pace exceeding the targets of the Paris Agreement,” she said.
Emissions standards needed to boost uptake in Australia
Not only did Toyota have the lowest share of electric vehicle sales, but it also ranked last in supply chain decarbonisation, next to Honda.
Greenpeace’s report was also critical of what it described as Toyota’s “anti-climate lobby”.
Ms. Snow said the company was “defending for outdated solutions” for climate change, and that by supporting hybrid technology, the manufacturer could ultimately extend the life of vehicles that rely on fossil fuels.
Several car publications have reported that Toyota is threatening to withdraw its production from the UK if a hybrid vehicle ban is introduced by 2030.
“Internationally, Toyota is ranked as the third most influential lobby group against climate action, behind fossil fuel giants ExxonMobil and Chevron,” said Ms. Snow.
That ranking is based on a report prepared last year by think tank InfluenceMap about the “productive and highly sophisticated” lobbying efforts of the fossil fuel industry and others.
“Toyota Motor has campaigned globally against proposed regulations to phase out combustion engines in favor of electric vehicles in 2020-21 and ranks 3rd on the InfluenceMap list of global companies most negatively impacting Paris climate policy,” it said. the 2021 report.
Jake Whitehead, the Electric Vehicle Council’s head of policy, said he was unable to comment on specific manufacturers, but Europe and the UK encountered industry resistance from a number of automakers as they implemented vehicle emissions and fuel efficiency standards.
He added that Australia was “quite behind the eight-ball” when it came to vehicle emissions standards.
“We are one of the last OECD countries not to have one” [fuel efficiency] plans,” said Dr. Whitehead.
“Our international partners, 5-10 years ago went through these processes [and] they faced some pretty tough setbacks from some of the manufacturers, and some misinformation was brought out as well.”
He said there had to be vigilance to ensure the same didn’t derail efforts to decarbonise Australia’s transport systems.
“I hope we can have a mature, fact-based debate about what it takes to get to net zero.”
Documents obtained by the Sydney Morning Herald last month appeared to show that the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) – a top-class car body in Australia – was trying to influence the proposed increases in Australian emissions standards.
The documents outlined a plan to position the FCAI as a “thought leader and trusted voice to reduce emissions”.
They also showed that the FCAI was pushing for the existing voluntary emissions standard of 98 grams of CO2 per kilometer to be introduced as the national standard, rather than stricter rules that would align us with Europe.
University of Queensland economics professor John Quiggin said Australia had “a lot of catching up to do” to align its policies with other developed countries.
“All other developed countries have had fuel efficiency standards for many years,” said Professor Quiggin.
“Most have announced or predicted that petrol car sales will end by 2035 or 2040.”
dr. Whitehead said introducing ambitious fuel efficiency standards would help increase the supply of electric vehicles to the country.
The UK has about three times as many electric car models as what is available in Australia.
“The main difference between the UK and us is: [our] lack of an ambitious fuel efficiency standard,” said Dr. Whitehead.
“You have about 500 models around the world, and less than 50 make it in our market.”
In response to questions from the ABC, a Toyota spokesperson said the company would support an “Australian standard for CO2 tailpipe emissions from new vehicles that would support the achievement of the goals of the Paris Agreement”.
The spokesperson did not specify what that emission standard would be.
“Carbon is the enemy and as Australia’s largest supplier of hybrid vehicles with more than 290,000 vehicles sold since 2001, Toyota Australia has made a significant contribution to reducing carbon emissions from the tailpipes in this country,” the spokesperson said.
“It was announced in December 2021 that Toyota is targeting global sales of 3.5 million by 2030” [battery-electric vehicles] per year, with plans to launch 30 BEV models.
“Locally, we will introduce our first dedicated BEV… in 2023.”