Contributing Monkie Jennifer Buonantony
Published on August 28, 2008
Ford seems to be going down kicking and screaming and have only just begun to see the the green future growing before their eyes. Everyone knows in business, one simple principle has always rings true — build products the public is demanding and your business will thrive. Or use mass marketing, hot women, celebrities, and reality shows product placement to create an artificial demand for the toxic, low cost, self disintegrating, and bad gas mileage products you already make.
You know Ford is feeling the pressure to actually make better vehicles, when they make crazy announcements proclaiming they will cut greenhouse gases emissions by 30 percent on all vehicles by 2020. That is really crazy serious talk, how can they possibly cut 30 percent in 12 years. Hmm, I have an idea, why don’t they really go for it and just stop all production on gas engines. Think of the money they will save on production. Or better yet, build pure electric or electric and biodiesel hybrids and cut emissions by a whopping 80%, in lets say 4 years. If companies small boot strap companies like Aptera can design vehicles getting 300 miles per gallon, surely Ford spending billions on research can do it quicker, better and cheaper.
Their 30% reduction announcement came after Ford, the number 2 automaker in the U.S., caved in to pressure from a coalition of environmental activists, including the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (which represents over 300 religious groups and $100 billion in assets), the Connecticut State Treasurer’s office and a network of other investors. Ford has been under heavy fire from eco critics for backing off earlier pledges for an aggressive roll-out of hybrids. The coalition, fed-up with Ford’s lack of action, threatened to file a shareholder resolution against the company.
I’m pleased to report that this measure no longer needs to be taken.
Ford’s plan includes creating a new global executive position at the company to oversee environmental initiatives, as well as a reduction of greenhouse emissions through emerging technology (like rechargeable cars). The company also pointed out that of the $6 billion dollars spent on development this year, almost all of the research was targeted on technology that holds the promise of improved fuel economy and reduced carbon emissions. Good stuff.
Although the announcement by Ford could be considered a major coup for the coalition, the true victory is the consumer’s.
Meanwhile, this same coalition is now turning its attention to another U.S. automotive giant, General Motors, and plans to go ahead with a similar proposal at GM’s annual meeting in June. The coalition points out that over 50 shareholder resolutions on global warming have been filed with U.S. companies across varied industries in 2008 thus far, which is double the numbers in recent years.
If demanding better overall performance and efficiency yields an increased supply of hybrid cars and greener vehicles, then demand we must. As long as the oldest principal in business rings true, future eco coalitions should meet with equal success.