Case studies

Leading auto companies in the race for net zero

Credit: Bert van Dijk/Getty images.

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European OEMs are making headway in the renewable energy transition 

Renault Group targets net zero in its ElectriCity factories in France by 2025, in Europe by 2030, and worldwide by 2050. It partnered with Voltalia to supply up to 50% of the company’s electricity consumption of its production activities in France from 2027 through solar panels. It also invested in ENGIE, a deep geothermal project that will replace 70% of the gas used at its Douai factory by 2025, and contracted Dalkia and EDF to install a biomass boiler to replace 65% of gas consumption at its Maubeuge factory. In 2022, 28.8% of Renault’s total energy consumption was derived from renewable energy sources.

BMW Group has no specific target on renewable energy but all production sites globally and the majority of its other sites use electricity derived from renewable sources via in-house generation, direct procurement, or Energy Attribute Certificates. This adds up to less than 42% of total energy consumption from renewables. In 2022, 40.4% of BMW’s total energy consumption was derived from renewable energy sources.

Carbon offset strategies in the auto sector

Since 2022, all CO2 emissions at production facilities operated by Mercedes-Benz have been offset by Gold Standard Foundation qualified climate change mitigation projects, allowing the company to claim carbon neutrality in Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions. The portfolio includes offset projects such as small-scale biogas plants in Nepal and projects for CO2-reduced drinking water treatment in Nigeria and Kenya. 

Tesla offsets its Scope 1, 2, and 3 GHG emissions through carbon credits generated by its clean energy business. The company operates a solar panel installation and energy storage businesses. In 2022, Tesla also generated $1.8 billion in revenue from carbon credits sold to other OEMs, allowing companies to comply with regulations without significantly changing their operations. 

In May 2023, Hyundai partnered with the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries and the Korea Fisheries Resources Agency for to develop seaweed blue carbon. Carbon absorbed by the planted seaweed will be used to partly offset the company’s emissions. 

Electrification targets are ambitious but achievable

Stellantis plans for the share of LEVs in its global sales mix to reach 44% in Europe and 37% in the US by 2025, increasing to 100% in Europe and 50% in the US by 2030. In 2022, shares of LEVs in the global sales mix were 18.3% in Europe and 4.9% in the US. 

BMW’s target is for electrified cars to exceed 30% of total deliveries by 2025, increasing to over 50% by 2030. In 2022, sales of electrified vehicles rose by 32.1%. This resulted in the share of electrified vehicles in the total fleet rising to 18.1% from 13% in 2021. 

Mercedes-Benz is targeting all-electric by the end of the decade. In 2022, xEVs made up 35% of total sales, up from 28% in 2021. 

Toyota is targeting cumulative sales of 30 million or more EVs by 2025. As of 2023, Toyota has sold over 20 million electrified vehicles cumulatively.

Are hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles a viable alternative to BEVs?

Toyota has made the most headway among the major OEMs regarding FCEV development, introducing the Toyota Mirai in 2014. It claims fuel cell technology would play a significant role in achieving its carbon neutrality goal, but the Mirai has sold less than 25,000 units as of November 2022. 

The company remains committed to FCEV development, highlighting commercial and heavy-duty vehicles as a segment that is more suited to the technology. It is not giving up on passenger FCEVs and is developing more compact hydrogen cells and fuel tanks to fit the technology into a wider selection of cars.

Leading adopters of the circular economy approach

Volkswagen has partnered with Salzgitter, a steel manufacturer, to produce low-carbon steel for its sports and luxury segments. Salzgitter uses green hydrogen to replace the coal used in conventional steel production. The steel will be produced in a new production route from the end of 2025. 

By 2030, GM will use at least 10% low-carbon aluminum in its manufacturing of the sheet aluminum products directly purchased for its US, Canada, and Mexico manufacturing facilities. In 2022, GM also sold 750,000 reused vehicle parts, including in the US. The use of remanufactured parts in vehicle repairs helps prolong the life of a vehicle. 

Renault aims to reduce the carbon footprint of the new R5 model’s battery by 20% by 2025, compared with the Zoe model’s battery in 2019. This will be achieved by partnering with Terrafame for sustainable nickel, Managem for low-carbon cobalt sulphate, and Vulcan for less carbon-intensive lithium. Renault also aims to increase the share of strategic recycled materials in new batteries by 80% by 2030, from a 2021 base year. 

Toyota is improving vehicle design across its models to facilitate dismantling and increase the recyclability of vehicles. In 2022, the company’s vehicles had an average recyclability rate of 85%. 

BMW’s sixth-generation lithium-ion batteries improved charging speed by up to 30%, energy density by more than 20%, and range by around 30% compared to the previous generation. 

Stellantis uses Vine, a due diligence management platform for supply chain traceability and visualization. The platform allows the company to review sustainability risks and mitigate undesirable practices.

GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Thematic Intelligence uses proprietary data, research, and analysis to provide a forward-looking perspective on the key themes that will shape the future of the world’s largest industries and the organisations within them.