Climate change, water scarcity and dwindling natural resources are just a few of the serious, long-term environmental challenges facing many countries across Asia Pacific, causing consumers to seek out eco-friendly goods and services.
As consumers begin flexing their socially-minded muscles at the cash register, they are demanding more from the brands they buy. For Ford Motor Company, this rising demand for ethically produced goods converges with the company’s own efforts to integrate sustainability into every aspect of its business.
The automaker has identified ‘Sustainability Blues’ as a key consumer trend in Asia Pacific. Ford’s 2016 Trends Report found that 87 percent of adults in India said they tend to choose products that are environmentally responsible. While for the remaining Asia Pacific, around 75 percent of respondents echoed the same view.
Rise of socially engaged consumers
Millennials – the demographic most connected with social media – tend to be the most socially aware and would prefer to buy from like-minded brands that share their values.
According to a recent Nielsen global survey, sales of consumer goods from brands with a demonstrated commitment to sustainability have grown more than four percent globally, while those without grew less than one percent. In addition, the majority of consumers said they were willing to pay more for sustainable brands, especially millennials – almost three-out-of-four of which said they would pay a premium for greener products, up from approximately half a year before.
“Young consumers care deeply about where and how their products are made, whether they are vegetables or automobiles,” said Sheryl Connelly, global consumer trends and futuring manager, Ford Motor Company. “They feel a personal responsibility to address social issues and are putting their money where their heart is. We must keep pace with consumers’ evolving wants and needs in order to remain competitive.”
Reducing our environmental footprint
Globally, Ford has reduced the energy used in its manufacturing process by 25 percent between 2010 and 2015. The company is also exploring innovative ways to reduce its water consumption, working towards the aspirational goal of zero potable water used in its manufacturing plants.
In Asia Pacific, Ford has made significant progress towards cutting its environmental footprint with recent examples including:
- Introduced the 3-wet high solid technology in the paint shop leading to 23% reduction of hazardous emissions. Ford’s Chennai plant was world’s first plant to introduce this technology. Ford’s Sanand plant is also equipped with this technology.
- Reduced CO2 emissions per vehicle produced by almost 10 percent in 2016 compared to 2015, and nearly 40 percent since 2010. At Ford’s Chennai plant, reduced energy and water consumption per vehicle produced by 16% and 30% respectively since 2009.
- Reduced Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emissions by close to 40% since 2009 at Ford’s Chennai plant
- Sent more than 90 percent less waste per vehicle to landfill in 2016 compared to 2011. In the same year, more than half of Ford’s manufacturing plants in the region were zero waste to landfill facilities, including Ford’s Chennai plant
- Used 15 percent less water to produce each vehicle in 2016 compared to 2015 – enough to fill two bathtubs or 1,000 half-liter bottles of drinking water.
Engineering eco-friendly vehicles from the inside out
Ford’s strategy is to pursue cost-effective fuel efficiency technologies that can benefit millions of people to truly make a difference. It is developing or has introduced a wide variety of new engine and transmission technologies, including EcoBoost® engines and advanced six-, nine- and 10-speed transmissions, as well as weight reductions and aerodynamic improvements that deliver significant fuel economy benefits.
Ford is also using renewable and plant-based materials in vehicle parts and components to reduce its environmental impact without making any compromises on performance, quality or durability. Today, almost 300 parts used across Ford’s vehicles are derived from sources such as soybeans, cotton, wood, flax, jute and natural rubber – and the company is researching the viability of other renewable materials such as bamboo and agave plants.
“We are committed to improving our approach to sustainability in ways that preserve our planet,” said Cynthia Williams,director, sustainability, environment and safety engineering, Ford Asia Pacific. “We need to face the core challenges of sustainability head on and encourage innovation in every part of our business.”