Car firms sign up to go green

Ford, Vauxhall, BMW, Toyota and Nissan are among 11 automotive companies which have joined a sustainability strategy launched last week by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

The companies, also including Rolls-Royce and Bentley and suppliers such as GKN and Unipart, have signed up to 12 environmental, economic and social commitments. These include `to continue to improve new vehicle fuel efficiency’ and `to continue to reduce the environmental impact of company operations’.

Some will find BMW’s espousal of the aim `to secure and enhance employment opportunities where appropriate’ and `to engage positively with stockholders’ rings rather hollow, however.

The SMMT will report on progress annually, starting this summer. Chief executive, Christopher Macgowan, said: `The industry recognises the need to balance its economic, environmental and social activities.’

In a foreword to the strategy document John Elkington, chairman of SustainAbility – an environmental management consultancy, said: `As currently configured, the sector is not sustainable. Some trends are steering in the wrong direction. In the US, there is accelerating demand for huge, gas-guzzling sport-utility vehicles.’

Recent moves by motor manufacturers to begin to address sustainable development could prove `too little too late’. He added: `The SMMT clearly has a critical role to play in helping to shape a framework for such initiatives.’ But it `needs to evolve rapidly’.