Despite the recent focus on the Corona pandemic, environmental and social topics should not be neglected. The following short status of public available information from automotive OEM companies is by no means complete and might be outdated pretty soon since new requirements and information is published almost weekly by companies, NGOs or other stakeholders. But especially for companies who wonder if the CSR topic will be here to stay, it should give good indication that this is only the dawn.
First of all the strategy and actions at a political or governmental level – with numerous local initiatives and even concrete law – will be further developed in the European Union by the Green Deal of the EU. The goal of the Green Deal is to support energy efficient industries, the circular economy, strengthen biodiversity and to achieve a carbon neutral status by 2050. This will also materialize in a new Environmental law for the EU. Despite the fact that several questions and the timeline are subject to change, the trajectory is clear.
How do the German car manufacturers position themselves with regard to this topic? One of the most recent articles from a German OEM was published in the FAZ Nr. 16 (Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung Nr. 16 “Wir stehen zu den CO2-Zielen”) mid April 2020. Ola Källenius, Chairman of the Board of Daimler, clearly commited himself to the set CO2-targets mentioning that “Corona should not be an excuse” for the fight against climate change. He also expressly wrote that in his view climate protection will pay off for all of us in the long term. Daimler seems to be sticking to its “Ambition2039” goal, which also includes “concrete CO2 measures with suppliers”.
Also Volkswagen has set it’s course to become climate neutral by 2050 with different interim-targets on their way to this goal. E.g. their new ID.3 car will be produced carbon neutral. Audi has also set up a special CO2 decarbonisation programme in which “potential savings in the supply chain” are mentioned. In line with their decarbonisation and overall CSR strategy Audi has different rating systems for suppliers like their S-rating.
In Munich, BMW set a clear path towards “environmental-compatible vehicles with renewable energy”. From BMW’s perspective, the transition to climate-neutral mobility has “a holistic approach”. Recently Andreas Wendt, member of the Board of Management at BMW responsible for purchasing and the supplier network, said that BMW has a “contract ticker” that will put “CO2 pressure” on procurement decisions.
According to the German VDA, roughly 3/4 of the value creation in the automotive sector is happening in the different levles of the supply chain. Therefore, the suppliers will have to follow the direction and the actions of their OEM customers to achieve the holistic goals set by the Green Deal of the EU. Of course one of the biggest impacts on the overall usage of cars and their emissions is driven by the car-owners themself. If one wants to anticipate future life time effects, it is essential to estimate customer behaviour using various scenarios.
Currently, the operational measures to collect and disclose the CSR engagment of suppliers range from individual questionnaires, official disclosure platforms as CDP, SAQ to concrete KPIs within the procurement phase. If suppliers have not yet been requested to disclose their CSR activities, it might happen very soon.