Toyota and Volkswagen, the two largest car makers globally, took a calculated risk and once again demonstrated why they are so successful. As the automotive industry is pledging to kill the combustible engine and produce only electric vehicles, Toyota and VW brought some reality and cold hard truth to the discussion. As a result, the companies refused to participate in a symbolic pledge at a recent climate conference.
The 26th annual COP, which stands for ‘Conference of the Parties’, wrapped up in Glasgow. Politicians from federal, regional and municipal governments, leaders of private companies, investment firms and banks, and 11 automakers signed a declaration promising to work toward zero emissions globally by 2040. However, the statement is not legally binding. As we’ve seen in the past, agreements at these conferences rarely come to fruition. Therefore it was nothing more than a photo-op, and the companies ignored the easy public relations.
By not signing, Toyota and Volkswagen are not saying they are going to be mass polluters. On the contrary, both companies are investing serious dollars and resources in zero-emissions technology. But they are pointing out that this kind of dramatic shift is not realistic for many regions of the world.
Toyota & VW Defend Decision with Global View
Reuters quoted a spokesperson from Toyota defending the decision not to sign, “we are ready to accelerate and help support with appropriate zero-emission vehicles. However, in many areas of the world, such as Asia, Africa, Middle East… an environment suitable for promoting full zero-emission transport has not yet been established. We think it will take more time to make progress… thus, it is difficult for us to commit to the joint statement at this stage.”
Even first-world, advanced cities are having difficulty keeping up with the change, as power grids are being challenged and finding charging stations is increasingly difficult. Volkswagen said the automotive evolution to electric varies from region to region. However, Chief Executive Herbert Diess said, “It could still make sense to use synthetic fuel cars in Latin America in 2035.”
It’s a refreshingly honest and transparent response for both companies. But, nevertheless, 11 automakers have made the non-binding pledge: Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Volvo Cars, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar Land Rover, Avera Electric Vehicles, BYD Auto, Etro Automobiles Private Limited, Gayam Motor Works, MOBI, and Quantum Motors. So be sure to hold those names accountable in 2035 and 2040.