Module 7, client, assesses companies’ customer engagement efforts. Including low-carbon vehicle options in product ranges is not enough, on its own, to achieve rapid low-carbon transition. Companies must make active efforts to influence their customers and direct a culture change away from high-emitting vehicles.
Sales promotions must be actively in favour of low-carbon vehicles. This module assesses information on promotions of low-carbon vehicles, including geographic coverage and the ambition of any associated sales KPIs. It comprises one indicator and accounts for 0.8 out of the overall performance assessment score of 20.
In the current assessment, an alarming 16 out of the 30 keystone companies have not undertaken any initiatives to actively promote the sales of low-carbon vehicles ahead of conventional ones. Some of these companies, such as Ford do have sections of their website dedicated to their low-carbon vehicles, but no specific campaigns or promotions to increase sales volumes were identified. As discussed in 2020 key finding 2, the limited progress in directing consumer choice away from high-emitting vehicles is reflected in many of the sample companies’ small low-carbon vehicle shares. For the 25 keystone companies included in the previous assessment, client engagement continues to be a low-performing area – with the average sample score remaining at 25 percent in both assessments. The automotive industry is renowned for its high profile marketing campaigns. Unfortunately, this influence is not being used to actively shift consumer choice away from high emission vehicles. There remains significant scope for improvement to shift consumers towards low-carbon vehicles to help decarbonise the automotive industry.
However, there are some relatively positive trends. Moving up the module ranking in fourth place is SAIC and in joint third place are Great Wall Motors, Kia and Nissan. All four of these companies offer either financial (Kia, SAIC and Great Wall) or charging (Nissan and Kia) incentives for customers purchasing their low-carbon vehicles. However, both the geographic scope and ambition of these incentives is either limited or unidentifiable. For SAIC, the financial incentives identified are no longer active, resulting in slightly lower performance compared to the other three companies.
Eight companies are grouped around second place on this module ranking: Mitsubishi Motors, Tata Motors, Volkswagen, BMW, General Motors, Guangzhou Automobile, and Hyundai. Companies at this level of the module ranking are rolling out schemes to encourage customer uptake of their low-carbon vehicles. Examples include General Motor’s discounts to Uber drivers on the electric Chevrolet bolt model or Hyundai’s “Because of You” campaign promoting the NEXO fuel cell electric vehicle. However, some of these schemes are limited in geographic scope such as those by BMW, General Motors, Guangzhou Automobile, Hyundai. Others fell short due to limited ambition or lack of a clear associated sales KPIs, such as those by Volkswagen, Tata and Mitsubishi.
At the top of this ranking are Groupe PSA and Tesla. As a manufacturer of only battery electric vehicles, all of Tesla’s marketing campaigns promote low-carbon models. The company reports on its approach to marketing in its financial (10-K) report which includes attempts to gather significant media coverage to increase sales. Tesla does not report a specific sales KPI for its promotion efforts, but given it only produces battery electric vehicles, its ambition is assumed to align with its overall sales targets. Of the conventional manufacturers assessed, Groupe PSA is clearly making efforts to promote the sales of its low-carbon vehicles ahead of conventional ones. It has several active campaigns and incentives spanning across several regions to achieve ambitious sales growth its low-carbon models, including free charging with PolarPlus in the UK and its global “Free2Move” programmes and electric vehicle video campaigns. The company has also dedicated motor show stands in recent years to its electric range.