The Automotive Sector and Climate Change

Assessing automakers climate strategies against a 1.5°C aligned transition

May 2022

See coverage in Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg, The Guardian, Electrek, The Driven and Yomiuri

InfluenceMap's new interactive Automotive Climate Tool combines leading analysis of the automotive sector's climate policy engagement, with industry-standard IHS Markit data (from March 2022, first available in April 2022) on automakers' zero-emissions vehicle production strategies.

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The report finds that the climate strategies of the world’s largest automakers are undermining a 1.5°C-aligned transition towards zero-emission vehicles. Based on InfluenceMap analysis of IHS Markit data, the entire global automotive sector will need to increase annual zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) production (either battery electric vehicles or fuel cell electric vehicles) by 80% from 2029 to 2030 to reach the IEA's 1.5°C-aligned 2030 target on ZEVs. Only Mercedes-Benz (56% in 2029) and Tesla (100% in 2029) are on track to meet the IEA's 1.5°C trendline for zero-emission vehicle production globally (57.5% of all global sales by 2030) based on recent forecasts.

At the same time, automakers remain a major blockage to government policy trying to speed up the shift to zero-emission vehicles. Eight out of twelve companies analyzed receive a final grade of D or D+ in InfluenceMap’s analysis of their climate policy engagement alignment with the Paris Agreement. The sector’s climate policy engagement is characterized by high-level supportive statements for climate action, contrasted with strategic opposition to regulations to phase out internal combustion engines.

The report also finds that automakers lagging in the transition to electric vehicles have the most negative climate policy engagement. Laggard automakers, such as Toyota (D) and Nissan (D+), which are forecast to have the lowest percentage of zero-emissions fleet-wide vehicle production in 2029 (14% and 22% respectively), also have the most negative climate policy engagement. In contrast, leading automakers in forecast battery electric vehicle production are most positively engaged on climate, led by Volkswagen (C) and Tesla (B), with Tesla's positive advocacy representing best practice for the sector.

Overall, ambitious climate legislation is a key driver for road transport electrification and a requirement for decarbonization. Regions with the most ambitious climate legislation for the automotive industry, like the EU, are leading on forecasted battery electric vehicle (BEV) production, whereas regions with less ambitious climate legislation, such as Japan, are lagging on forecasted domestic BEV production. Moreover, as hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles (FCEV) are forecast to only reach 0.1% of global light-duty vehicle production in 2029, climate regulations promoting battery electric vehicles appear crucial to decarbonizing the sector.

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