The Car Industries Response Towards Climate Change Issues

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The Car Industries Response Towards Climate Change Issues


Climate change is currently a very important issue.  A large number of scientists and industry experts are of the opinion that, if the damage that humanity is causing to the earth’s environment goes on unchecked, there will be a drastic shift in the climate towards a more inhospitable environment. (see appendix 1 for more information)

This report aims to analyse the responses of some companies in the automobile market to the environmental problems faced by the industry and to determine if they are making enough of an effort to combat the damage they, and their products, are causing to the environment.  This report will be looking at Toyota, Mercedes Benz, BMW and Ford and using the pyramid of social responsibility model and the stakeholder theory to determine these organisations positions on environmental issues.

How Organisations respond to Climate Change Issues.

Countries, individuals and organisations are responsible for emissions.  Recently, governments have come up with a ‘carbon footprint’ scheme to encourage individuals to cut their carbon emissions.  The Kyoto Protocol was created in 1997, but went into force in Febuary 2005 with the aim of dropping CO2 emissions by 5.2% of the 1990 levels by 2012.

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Some countries are more worried about reaching these targets than others, and some companies seem to be more concerned with decreasing carbon emissions that others.  In the car industry, companies such as Toyota are keen to be seen to be making an effort towards reducing the carbon emissions of their vehicles by introducing hybrid technology and more efficient engines into their vehicles, while other companies such as Lamborghini and Ferrari are developing cars with bigger more powerful engines averaging 15 mpg or less with enormous carbon emissions.

Toyota is happy to be seen as the green car manufacturer.  The Toyota Prius has the best economy figures for any motor car, emitting just 104g/km of CO2 and a combined mileage of 65.7 mpg. (source: )

The most efficient 5 seated family car produced by Mercedes, the C180 blueEFFICIENCY model, only manages a combined 44.8 mpg which is nowhere near the performance of the Toyota, and its emission comply with the EU4 Emissions Standard. ( source: )  Mercedes are also currently producing the SL65 AMG, a 5 seat family car that has been limited to a top speed of 155 and averages 19.1 mpg.  This car also complies with the EU4 Emissions Standard, but with an engine capable of producing so much power and a price of nearly £60,000 it is likely that buyers of this vehicle will be interested in ‘putting their foot down’ and so decreasing the mpg figures and carbon emissions.  This is an example of Mercedes Benz disregarding current economical thinking and just wanting to make a profit at the expense of the climate.  Mercedes Benz however have developed the Smartcar, a small two person vehicle capable of 65.7mpg and emitting 103g/km of CO2.  This vehicle utilise a ‘micro hybrid drive’  engine to minimise emissions by turning itself off while idle and back on again when it is needed.  (source:  )

The pyramid of social responsibility model (see appendix 2) shows how business decisions are made.  It shows how businesses make decisions based primarily on economical factors and least on philanthropic factors.  In this model, Toyota are seen to be acting from the philanthropic level, however Mercedes Benz are more complex.  Their family sized cars are not going above and beyond what is required by law, but the Smartcar is being produced to be economical and as green as possible.  As a result Mercedes can be deemed to be motivated by both legal factors, in the case of their family models, and by ethical factors in the production of the Smartcar since it is much more economical.  This contradiction in how they operate their businesses perhaps can be understood when looking at the brand images of Mercedes.  The image of a Mercedes is a fast, powerful, expensive car and this is a hard image to convey while going green so the brand image has backed Mercedes Benz into a corner.  The Smartcar, while produced by Mercedes Benz is not sold under the Mercedes Brand and so is not expected to be fast or powerful, which allows them to create the slower, smaller more environmentally friendly cars now associated with the Smart brand.

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BMW current 3 series, their 5 seat family model has energy usage figures of 47.9 mpg and emits 142 g/km of CO2 for the 1.8 litre petrol engine and 46.3 mpg and CO2 emissions of 146 g/km for the 2 litre petrol engine.  

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BMW are currently developing alternate fuel cars that, the company claims, release zero emissions.  This sounds like a fantastic breakthrough however, what BMW is not telling the public is that the emission this car was tested for was Carbon Monoxide not CO2. This could lead to uninformed consumers purchasing a car that they believe is ...

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