Ford, Mercedes, and Tesla have the least problematic EV supply chains

Ford, Mercedes-Benz, and Tesla occupy the top three spots in a new ranking of 18 global automakers based on their efforts to eliminate carbon emissions, environmental harms, and human rights violations from their supply chains. US automakers in particular made the most progress in cleaning up their supply chains, with Tesla showing the biggest increase of all the automakers.

The rankings were compiled by Lead the Charge, a global coalition of leading climate, environment, and human rights organizations that includes the Sierra Club, The Sunrise Project, and Public Citizen, among others. The group started evaluating automaker supply chains last year, with the goal to release an updated ranking each year.

Overall, automakers made a lot of progress in cleaning up their supply chains, especially around human rights due diligence and steel decarbonization. The group also found evidence that EU regulations are having a positive effect on automakers worldwide.

US automakers showed the most progress, with Ford topping the leaderboard with a score of 42 percent, surpassing last year’s winner, Mercedes. Tesla, which only recently began reporting numbers on its supply chain emissions, secured the largest score increase, jumping from ninth to third place. However, the report shows major gaps in the automakers’ human rights practices, particularly on Indigenous rights, where no progress was made, even by top scorers such as Ford and Mercedes. 

Toyota and Honda were among the worst-performing automakers this year, along with Kia and Nissan. The group knocked the companies for slower progress on the transition to EVs, while also ignoring supply chain emissions and Indigenous rights.

US automakers showed the most progress, with Ford topping the leaderboard with a score of 42 percent

Overall progress in 2023 was “lackluster,” the group concludes, and the auto industry risks missing its climate goals without a more serious effort to rein in carbon emissions and a more forceful embrace of human rights.

“Average scores overall were just 19 percent, and no company scored over 50 percent against the total number of indicators,” the report states. “Moreover, one third of the automakers evaluated still haven’t taken concrete action on steel and aluminum decarbonization, whilst average scores across the indicators on responsible transition mineral sourcing, Indigenous Peoples’ rights and workers’ rights have risen by just 2 percentage points, with 11 out of the 18 automakers continuing to score 0 percent on Indigenous Peoples rights.”

Some automakers recognize that more needs to be done to minimize environmental harm while protecting workers and Indigenous people. A climate report released last year commissioned by Polestar and Rivian indicates that, despite a massive rollout of new EVs and hybrids in the coming years, the global automotive industry is still “far off track” on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in a way that can meet targets set by the Paris Agreement.


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