5 Automotive companies with sustainability mission statements

Toyota’s mission statement ties in sustainability to its goals

I wonder how many people look for the word “sustainability” and its associated terms of climate change, energy, emissions, environmental management etc. into the mission statements of car companies before making a purchase or after, as part of their research for their “responsible” car company?

Or do people even care if a company is responsible in its business practices, or not, as long as they are being delivered a good quality, fuel efficient vehicle or a fast premium car (whatever the case maybe) that defines an individual’s personality?

Is it a greenwash by a company to have sustainability embedded mission statement but fail in making sustainability embedded vehicles? Or is it okay to demonstrate the sustainability proof by building a highly efficient car in terms of fuel consumption along with its tightly knit green suppliers without sustainability as part of their goals and vision?

Can Mission statements mis-represent?

I noted that some of our favorite car manufacturers don’t have sustainability embedded into their mission statements. However, it doesn’t refute the strides that these companies are taking to make environmentally friendly vehicles.

Another interesting point I noticed was that sustainability or some mention of it with regard to community, product stewardship, supply chain responsibility etc. was mentioned in their main home pages of these companies websites.

So, the question is“What is the effect of the word ‘Sustainability” in the mission statements of car manufacturers?”

Also read Brewing sustainability? Not quite. Mission statements of 5 coffee companies

Many would argue that the end product, ie, the car, is what matters and not what goes on inside the factory gates or board room vision meetings. Because in the process of making a green car, the processes themselves will unleash an efficient use of resources thereby keeping the costs down and causing a bit less harm to the environment. So, even if a company is not focused on sustainability per se, but is making vehicles that are, is doing the right thing.

But many other’s would also argue that a mission statement without the S – word would falter and forget all about sustainability and being responsible citizen in tough times.

Here’s a look at some of the mission statements of various car manufactureres:

General Motors

GM’s mission statement features the phrase “socially responsible” in the very first line and has the vision to design, build and sell the world’s best vehicles. Sustainability and environment screams from all around its website but does its products also match those feel-good expectations?

Suzuki Motor Corporation

On the other hand, we have Suzuki’s overarching mission to provide “Value packed products” with no mention of sustainability or being a responsible company, but we see that Suzuki has been consistently providing its customers with the most fuel efficient vehicles and has remained a good corporate citizen throughout (especially in India)

Ford

Ford with “One Ford: One Team, One Plan, One Goal” vision seems to focus only on restructuring itself with a goal of creating “An exciting viable Ford delivering profitable growth for all”.

Nissan

Nissan’s mission statement comes nowhere near to integrating sustainability or responsibility and is a typical old fashioned one with phrases like unique, superior, innovative, measurable values thrown in but makes vehicles which are in synch with the environment.

Toyota

Toyota, the maker of game-changing “Prius” has (no surprises) gotten the exact blend of a green product and a green mission statement: “Toyota will lead the way to the future of mobility, enriching lives around the world with the safest and most responsible ways of moving people”. I found this mission statement to contain just the right wordings of leading the future of mobility in the most responsible ways.

Premium Segment

Then we have the premium category of car makers like BMW, Land Rover, Audi and the likes having mission statements of “delighting customers wroldwide”, “being the world’s leading provider of premium products and premium services for individual mobility”, and “creating big cars that can go through all types of terrain and feel good doing it”. As anyone can see, the sustainability word is completely missing. Rather these statements indulge in delighting in higher consumption, fast racy cars etc. - so it seems!

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These companies are very sure of doing what they have always done – providing expensive premium cars and if sustainability comes in the way, then so be it and integrate that into the products.

So, we see that the products these premium car companies are making are at the very high end of sustainable practices (resource recovery, pollution prevention) methods, but the mission statements don’t reflect that.

This shows that sustainability does not operate in silo and is not a thing to be shown (in a mission statement) - it is something that is a given (embedded) in the manufacturing process and products.

What do you think- Is the S-word an important ingredient in a mission statement or can companies do without it and still produce sustainable green products?

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Comments

  1. I think most of the companies do think of the environment and sustainability. I has to come through design process than it can be implemented on the product in large scale. In this era of changing design of the product so fast that there is no time for thinking to adopt the sustainability design.

    • Thanks for your comment Nagi.
      There are 2 aspects to sustainability – product innovation and operational efficienncy (recycling waste, plant sustainability etc.). I agree that most companies do think about environmental and sustaianbility aspects during the design process but the challenge is that almost no one is looking at radical design changes – all of the carmakers are building upon the same design of Henry Fords Model T ( you know, same engine, 4 wheels, use of metal etc…) Today’s cars are extremely ineffcient – only 20% of fuel energy is used to turn the wheels (rest is wasted). Why aren’t car makers making cars that run on biofuels, hydrogen or electric cars? Because there are great incentives in making petrol cars.
      Through design we can have the maximum impact, but desginers are not given enough leeway in this fast moving changing world. If we don’t think of embedding sustainbility now in the design process (I mean truly embed, not just lip service), then in the climate change scenario, there won’t be many markets left to sell their cars to!
      What do you think is happening in OEM’s?

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