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Ford aims to become carbon neutral by 2050 by committing to electricity

Published Apr 1, 2021


JOHANNESBURG - On the road to building a better world for future generations, Ford has announced significant greenhouse gas emission targets in its 2021 Integrated Sustainability and Financial Report summary, as the company aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

Ford has used the approach of the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) to set interim emissions targets that are in line with what the latest climate scientists deem necessary to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.* The 2035 targets consist of reducing absolute greenhouse gas emissions from company global operations by 76% and from new vehicles sold globally by 50% per kilometre.

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Key to the reduction of emissions is the development of electrified vehicles. Ford’s strategy in Europe is to go all-in on electrification, with passenger vehicles to be all-electric by 2030.

For commercial vehicles, Ford’s product range in Europe will be zero-emissions capable, with all-electric or plug-in hybrid offerings, as early as 2024.

Spearheading the move to electric is the $1 billion investment to transform the company’s vehicle assembly facility in Cologne into a centre for the manufacture of electric vehicles, Ford’s first such facility in Europe. Also, the next generation Ford Transit Custom range will include all-electric models built by Ford Otosan in Turkey, further advancing Ford’s electrification strategy and commercial vehicle leadership in Europe.

“We will lead in achieving carbon neutrality because it’s the right thing for customers, the planet and for Ford,” says Bob Holycross, chief environment and sustainability and safety officer, Ford Motor Company. “95% of our carbon emissions today come from our vehicles, operations and suppliers, and we’re tackling all three areas with urgency and optimism.”

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The company’s 2050 carbon neutrality goal is aligned with the Paris Climate Agreement, which the US recently recommitted to and Ford fully supports.

More than just electric cars

Ford is investing in electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles and connected solutions.

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The company recently doubled its investment in electric vehicles to $22 billion through 2026 as Ford continues to electrify some of its most popular nameplates – including the highly anticipated Mustang Mach-E SUV, which rolled out in North America in late 2020, followed by Europe in early 2021, and will arrive in China later this year. Ford South Africa has not confirmed if it’s coming here yet.

In addition to the $1 billion investment to transform the company’s vehicle assembly facility in Cologne into a centre for the manufacture of electric vehicles, construction has already begun on the new Rouge Electric Vehicle Centre in Dearborn, in the US, where the all-electric F-150 pick-up truck will be built. These investments – together with another $1 billion announced in February to transform operations in Pretoria, South Africa – will further help reduce Ford’s overall carbon footprint.

Last year, Ford South Africa announced the launch of Project Blue Oval; a renewable energy project which aligns with the company’s global target of using 100% locally sourced renewable energy for all its manufacturing plants by 2035, and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. In its first phase, construction of solar carports for 4,200 vehicles at the Silverton Assembly Plant will go a long way to seeing the Pretoria property become entirely energy self-sufficient and carbon neutral by 2024 – making it one of the first Ford plants in the world to achieve this status.

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Also included in Project Blue Oval planning is the implementation of treated wastewater reuse at the assembly plant. The short-term goal will be to capture 100% of the facility’s wastewater for recycling, and to reuse the maximum available volume back into the manufacturing process. The long-term goal will be to identify and utilise alternative non-fresh water sources to eliminate the use of fresh water in manufacturing entirely.

During the past year, Ford has played an integral role in using design and manufacturing expertise, as well as existing vehicle parts, to help produce thousands of units of medical equipment such as ventilators and respirators, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To date, the company has produced nearly 160 million face masks; more than 20 million face shields; 50,000 patient ventilators with GE Healthcare; and more than more than 32,000 powered air-purifying respirators in collaboration with 3M. Additionally, virus-related contributions through the Ford Motor Company Fund philanthropic arm included $1.13 million to relief programmes worldwide.

In South Africa Ford transformed its Silverton Assembly Plant production facilities to manufacture over 285 000 face shields, with almost 140 000 donated to the government for distribution to frontline healthcare workers across South Africa, and approximately 7 000 supplied directly to humanitarian organisations.

Ford established dedicated Flu Clinics and extensive screening and testing procedures at its Silverton and Struandale plants to ensure that manufacturing employees were able to safely return to work and resume production, equipped with all of the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE).

Grants from Ford Motor Company Fund for Unjani Clinics enabled the distribution of educational materials, face masks and hand sanitisers for taxi commuters, and provided loan vehicles to several NPOs across the country, including Gift of the Givers Foundation, the SA Red Cross Society and Laudium Disaster Management to ensure their mobility to reach and assist the hardest-hit communities across South Africa.

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