Initially when I read that Volkswagen had been named the most sustainable car manufacturer for 2013 by the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices I was a little surprised, eco-friendly cars that usually spring to mind are the Toyota Prius hybrid or the Nissan Leaf electric car (EV).  If you google top green cars, the lists aren’t dominated by Volkswagen cars, so why have Dow Jones Sustainability Indices named the Volkswagen group most sustainable car manufacturer for 2013.

Firstly it is the Volkswagen group not just the Volkswagen models of cars, Volkswagen also manufacture Audi, SEAT, Skoda, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porshe and Ducati.  Now when you are looking at the top green cars lists you will see the Skoda Citigo, SEAT Mii, Audi A3, Skoda Fabia and SEAT Ibiza mentioned.  However, names like Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche and Ducatic are all associated more with gas guzzling speed machines than low CO2 emissions.  Although in one top green cars list I did find the Porsche Panamera mentioned.  The Dow Jones Sustainability Indices doesn’t just assess the eco credentials of a single car but it measures the environmental, economic and social sustainability performance of the company.  Factors such as supply chain management, codes of conduct, climate strategy, environmental policy, operational eco-efficiency and occupational health and safety, which have a wider impact than just the emissions of one make or model of car.  This is what the Dow Jones Sustainablity Indices said about Volkswagen:

The group thus works to incorporate sustainability along the entire value chain, addressing global challenges in resource conservation, climate protection and intra- and inter-generation equity. Research and innovation plays a strong role in achieving its sustainability goals and is implemented largely by Volkswagen’s 40,000 engineers. Strong efforts have been dedicated to improving fleet efficiency, with Volkswagen setting goals to cut average CO2 emissions to 120 g/km by 2015 and 95 g/km by 2020. This goal constitutes part of Volkswagen’s overall sustainability targets framework, called “Strategy 2018,” in which the company sets innovations and efficiency targets for the year 2018. Internal operational targets are also considered:
Volkswagen plans to format its production plants to be 25% more environmentally compatible by this date.

Therefore looking at the how the Dow Jones measures a company’s sustainability, it would seem that Volkswagen deserves to be top, as it isn’t just paying lip service to sustainability by having a few high profile green cars but rather integrating sustainability within the company.  Hopefully Volkswagen’s commitment to sustainability will show other car manufacturers how to incorporate sustainability within their business and maintain profitability.   It will be interesting to see if Volkswagen is top again in 2014 or whether other manufacturers see the benefits of really incorporating sustainability into the core of their business and over take Volkswagen.

Are Green Cars the future?

My car at present isn’t a green car, it is a practical family car.  When I bought it over a year ago I didn’t even think about looking at eco-friendly used cars, as I had wrongly assumed that they would be out of my price range and I guess most people would think that.  However, next time I am looking at changing my car I would definitely research the used green cars that were available.  In the future I think fuel prices will continue to rise so manufacturers will have to find affordable innovative ways to reduce fuel consumption and emissions.  Already electric cars are becoming popular in London, due to the fact you don’t pay road tax or congestion charges for electric cars and running costs are substantially lower than for petrol or diesel cars.  However at present the initial high purchase price prevents most average families from investing in an electric car.

What can the average person do to green their driving?

  • Drive as smoothly and efficiently as possible to get better mpg from your car
  • Insure your car using a green insurance company such as The Green Insurance Company
  • Walk or bike short distances

I will be writing a more detailed post about how you can increase your mpg and reduce costs of motoring at a later date.

So what do you think?  Are hybrid or electric cars a viable option?  Or should people use public transport and leave cars at home?  Please leave a comment below.

This post is sponsored by the Green Insurance Company but all the views are my own.