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Nissan weighs in with sustainability plan

Model behaviour: Production versions of Nissan’s IDS concept will be a step closer to its grand plan of zero fatalities and zero emissions.

Environment front and centre in Nissan’s sustainable view of the future

6 Jul 2016

NISSAN has laid bare its long-term sustainability strategy, setting out a road map that aims to drastically reduce its contribution to climate change, reduce the road toll, and cut its dependence on non-renewable resources, looking as far into the future as 2050.

In its Sustainability Report 2016, the global automotive giant has divided its plan for growth and productivity into eight key areas with the most planned activity and measurable change described in the Environment section.

None of the targets spelled out in the report appear to give the car-maker an easy ride as it plans its future operations across all facets of the business, headlined by a goal to cut what it describes as well-to-wheel carbon dioxide emissions by 90 per cent by 2050, when compared to 2000.

The figure applies to the emissions produced after manufacturing and sale, and is aligned with a target to reduce its overall carbon footprint by 80 per cent within the same period.

Initially, Nissan says the reduction will start with the continued development of more efficient combustion engines, but a longer-term plan that looks at the proliferation of its electric vehicles and fuel-cell power will result in an exponential reduction.

Nissan acknowledged its contribution to climate change and says the aggressive objectives are necessary to limit global warming to less than two degrees.

Almost as ambitious is its target to cut CO2 produced by corporate activities by 80 per cent, but the 2016 report outlines the company’s progress with a 35 per cent improvement to Nissan’s corporate average fuel efficiency (CAFE) between 2005 and 2016.

Nissan does not pin a target date to its most long-sighted strategy but says it is driven by the possibility of a future where all of its vehicles produce zero carbon dioxide emissions.

Complementing its targets to reduce CO2 released into the environment, Nissan also plans to boost its recycling programs, including production materials such as steel pressing off-cuts, as well as end-of-life components such as bumpers.

The goal to increase recycling by 70 per cent will be directed by more focused environmental management procedures and the promotion of comprehensive and efficient initiatives.

The company’s safety initiatives are also high up and ambitious in the report and hint at the advances that will be seen in its products over the next four years.

As soon as the end of this year, Nissan vehicles will be available with technology that will allow them to negotiate a single freeway lane with an evolution of adaptive cruise control and reliable lane-keep assistance systems.

In 2018 the technology will have evolved to cope with multi lanes and lane changes, before a fully autonomous car is rolled out in 2020 which will be able to handle “city streets including intersections” without driver intervention.

Like its goal for zero carbon emission vehicles, Nissan does not peg a timeline to a goal of “bringing deaths and serious injuries from accidents involving Nissan vehicles down to virtually zero”, but says it is already deep into development of the technology that will realise the objective.

“To reduce traffic accidents and achieve this goal, it will be necessary to develop and deploy effective safety technologies in as many vehicles as possible,” the report reads. “Comprehensive efforts will also be needed that encompass individuals and the driving environment as well.

“Nissan uses a triple-layered approach, taking measures in the areas of vehicles, individuals and society to contribute to the creation of a truly safe automobile society.” The necessary technology falls under Nissan’s Safety Shield concept which equips vehicles with the sensors, data management systems and controls to monitor the environment in real time and may also incorporate the peer-to-peer tech as described by other marques.

Nissan says the goal goes hand-in-hand with education and awareness, and the target of zero fatalities is only possible with the continued roll-out of training schemes such as its previous Hello Safety Campaign and Safety Driving Forum.

Mention is made of the Renault-Nissan Alliance that was formed in 1999 with a predicted increase in synergies as part of the partnership from €4.1 billion in 2015 to €5.5b in 2018.

Nissan says it is aiming for the combined company to be “among top three auto-makers in the areas of technology and innovation, revenue and operating profit, and quality and customer satisfaction” by 2018.

Nissan’s philanthropic endeavours will continue on into the coming years, which have so far contributed ¥2.4 billion to a wide range of educational, disaster relief, community, environmental and developmental projects.

As is typical for Japanese global companies, a sharp focus is also directed at ‘Kaizen’ as part of the Quality segment of the report – or the philosophy of continuous improvement.

A 4G strategy splits the opportunities to improve quality into four segments including the Global Production Engineering Centre for exploring and optimising manufacturing processes, the Global Packaging Design Centre for training logistics specialists, a network of Global Training Centres enhancing the skills of all employees and a team of Global Launching Experts which are helping to successfully meet quality cost time targets for launching new vehicles.

Fewer quantifiable targets are set out in the areas of Value Chain, Corporate Governance and Internal Control, but continued attention to sustainable, profitable growth and to continue providing value to all stakeholders over the long term is covered in the Economic Contribution segment which forecasts a 6.6 per cent consolidated operating profit margin and 6.3 per cent global market share in 2016, compared with 7.0 per cent and 6.2 per cent respectively in 2015.

The report is rounded out by the Employee section which promises improved work environments in terms of health and safety as well as ensuring a pleasant place that employees look forward to going to.

In a similar approach to fellow Japanese car-maker Honda, Nissan has also issued guidelines calling for 50 per cent of newly hired office workers, 15 per cent of engineers and 25 per cent of technicians to be women, combating Japan’s typically male-dominated management and technical employment landscape.

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