How green is your carmaker?
21 March 2007
Ford’s impressive Diesel Centre in Dagenham, Essex is wind-powered, showcase the brand’s environmental awareness beyond simple vehicle emissions
With more fleet tender deals requiring carmakers to reveal their green credentials we decided to investigate the top 20 fleet players' environmental status and future plans. Guy Bird reports
Not being up to speed with green issues is no longer acceptable for carmakers trying to pitch to fleets. Not a day passes without central Government suggesting a new way to cut CO2 emissions - the latest being the announcement of the Climate Change Bill last week promising a series of clear targets for reducing CO2 emissions by 60% by 2050 (including a 26-32% reduction by 2020).
The EU is at it, too, pushing for legally binding CO2 targets for carmakers of 140g/km by 2008 and 120-130g/km by 2012 - which at present three-quarters of all European car brands are failing to meet.
Even if some carmakers may secretly believe the politicians are barking up the wrong over-hugged tree regarding man-made CO2 being responsible for global warming (as the recent Channel 4 TV documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle so eloquently argued), there's still a case for carmakers to show their green credentials in all matters. After all, on a basic level, fleets have always had a vested interest in using fuel-efficient (and thus low-CO2-emitting) vehicles to keep costs under control, and now increasingly good corporate fleet citizens also like to be reassured that their low-CO2 and frugal vehicles are also made and disposed of in an environmentally sound manner.
The league table (see right) breaks down the top 20 fleet players by average tailpipe CO2, their greenest cars, eco production initiatives, future product plans and even 'green mission statements' in an attempt to gauge which brand is really the most environmentally friendly.
Unsurprisingly, the car brands that make predominantly light and small cars with the latest engines and powertrains do best in the survey, but the extra information listed on production processes and more also shows that some of the bigger prestige carmakers are also spending a lot of time trying to do their bit - on greening their production processes and in exciting eco-focused future product from hybrid, flexfuel and hydrogen-powered vehicles.
“Unsurprisingly, the car brands that make predominantly light and small cars with the latest engines and powertrains do best in the survey”
In researching this piece it became abundantly clear that many of the big players are simply not very good at communicating their often highly green credentials. Case in point: asking your potential fleet client to pick through a 170-page sustainability report as a PDF computer file is less likely to win you a tender than picking out the salient points first and distilling it into a 50-100 word summary that any non-car specialist could easily understand.
As Vauxhall's brand manager for fleet, Paul Adler, points out: "We're noticing more tenders requiring corporate and green footprint information especially from blue chip clients and the public sector. The bigger the organisation, the bigger the onus on them is to ask."
Whether carmakers agree with the science or not, they're bothering to take green initiatives seriously, so they need to get better at communicating that message so fleets can go back to their eco-anxious bosses with some easy digestible green info. This topic isn't going to go away.