Honda Motor Co. is the largest motor cycle manufacturer and a leading automaker in the world. With a worldwide network of over 501 subsidiaries, Honda’s diverse portfolio includes small sized general purpose engines to scooters and sports cars. The philosophy of Honda Motor Co. is well entrenched with the Japanese culture of pursuing the ‘triple joys’. The triple joys reflect the joys of buying, selling and creating. The company has been particularly recognized world over for its initiatives in tackling environmental challenges.
Although environmental concerns and need for reciprocative action became eminent in the mid 1980s, Honda’s efforts in this direction can be attributed to the 1960s when air pollution was first understood. The environmental leadership at Honda is deeply rooted in the company’s vision to be ‘a company that the society wants to exist’ (Honda Motors, 2010). Today people throughout the world have become conscious of the damages automobiles can do to our environment. Thus we see environment friendly automotive technologies emerging in response to uncovering environmental situation.
The concept of Green Motoring has taken shape, which involves using alternative fuels in order to reduce air pollution. Among the efforts automotive manufacturers take to contribute to the environment, is the use of fuels generated from bio alcohols and bio mass. Green motoring is now focused on using hydrogen as a fuel (Green Field H 2008). The vision of the company is indeed too radical, at least with respect to environment protection. Wanting to see itself as an entity that the society doesn’t object, is indeed an unprecedented thought, reflecting its understanding of public thinking.
This philosophy also highlights the importance it attaches to public perception of environmental degradation. The company seems to believe that the society will allow it to exist only if it is compliance with its expectations. It is therefore no wonder that Honda had taken a leadership role well ahead of its competitors, proactively. The environmental impact has been fully analyzed, encompassing its manufacturing process, the vehicles manufactured, the support activities like administration, transportation etc. The environment friendly initiatives are reflected in all its subsidiaries throughout the world.
Honda seems to have made environmental concern a part of its global strategy. All Honda operations throughout the world, have a significant bearing with respect to environment protection for the countries in which they operate. Discussion Honda seeks to create new value by incorporating innovative ideas that reflect the changing needs. The company is committed to the future, by minimizing its effects on the environment and its intake of earth’s resources. A recent survey by DuPont and the Society of Automotive Industry (SAE) has identified environmental concerns as being the biggest challenge for the industry.
According to Chris Murphy DuPont director, environmental considerations are transforming vehicle design and development and have become a differentiator in the marketplace. About 54% of the respondents saw fuel efficient vehicles with reduced environmental impact as being primary to the consumers (Laura 2008). On its part, Honda seeks to address climate change, produced due to higher concentration of CO2, CFC and other greenhouses gases. By introducing hybrid and fuel economizing technologies, CO2 emissions are not only reduced in Honda vehicles, but throughout its entire corporate activity.
With regard to depletion of resources, Honda has been developing technologies, solar cell development and energy saving technologies. The company is well set to be ahead of the stipulations expected of it, as a vehicle manufacturer. The ongoing regulations are only expected to get tougher with time, and vehicle manufacturer in particular have to be well prepared to achieve the required standards. The Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) requires cars and SUVs to increase their fuel efficiency by about 4% each year. Thus by 2020, a fuel efficiency of about 35 miles per gallon has to be achieved (Crawley, 2007).
The compliance of Honda to environmental concerns is evident from its 1972 development of the CVCC engine in compliance with the US Clean Air Act, which was the world’s toughest emission regulation of the time. The company pursued its development of catalytic converter and other such clean emission technologies in the last four decades resulting in its vehicles emissions being reduced to 1/1000 of its 1970 levels. Honda is currently promoting its Green Factory initiative worldwide, together with energy conservation and waste reduction initiatives in its non-production activities.
About 324 subsidiaries including 224 non-manufacturing companies have been covered by this (Honda Motors, 2010). The direct and indirect energy consumption at Honda Motors is shown in Appendix 1, while region wise energy, water consumption and waste are shown in Appendix 2. The genuine efforts in wanting to pass a beautiful natural environment to the future generation is reflected in the company setting up its own independent goals and working towards the same. Some of the notable concepts in Honda environmental aspirations are:
Green Vehicle development: Striving towards development of zero emission for all its vehicles, Honda became the first Japanese company to comply with the recent emission regulations. The company developed a special exhaust air injection system and a programmed system for fuel injection which is currently used in its VFR motorcycle. The company’s 50cc Giorno Crea scooter is highly fuel efficient and also environment friendly. Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV): Even as early as 1986, Honda had been involved in the development of a hydrogen powered fuel cell electric vehicle, today seen in the form of FCX Clarity FCEV.
The car has been the result of two decades of work by Honda’s engineers, in an effort to truly preserve the earth’s environment. The car uses an electric motor and a fuel cell stack and does not emit any CO2. When the fuel cell stack was developed for the first time in 1999, it was too large and bulky. Through continuous research and development the fuel cell stack underwent transformation to become smaller and lighter and yet more powerful (American Honda, 2010). This in turn enabled the vehicle to become elegant and comfortable.
The highlights of FCX Clarity FCEV are: • Only water vapor emission • Reduces carbon dioxide emissions significantly • Certified as a zero emission vehicle (ZEV) Green Dealer: The Green dealer concept streamlines and enables efficient use of water, electricity and paper through continuous assessments and improvements of existing systems. The concept is directed at conservation of the environment and keeping the polluting activities to a minimum (HMSI, 2007). Creating an awareness of environment among the employees and the general public is also a part of this scheme.
Goal setting: Honda’s efforts towards environmental preservation are reflected through individually defined targets. In 2006 it set emission reduction goals for CO2 emission, to be reached by 2010. In 2007 the company set targets for reducing environmental impact, also intended to be achieved by 2010. The company is on track to reach targets. The future is only getting tougher for the vehicle manufacturers, though Honda is firmly set to meet the required goals. While setting environmental goals for itself, across global operations, Honda has been too detailed in its approach.
The company approached the environment problem from several perspectives. As part of its global environmental policy, Honda sets specific goals with regard to its Life Cycle Assessment System, by which the environmental impact is measured and analyzed. Apart from monitoring and reducing its emissions, it also studied and monitored the impact on environment due to its emissions. The company through its suppliers and partners, thus sought solutions through innovations and technologies, to look for ways to be in harmony with nature.
Honda of Canada Manufacturing (HCM) was among the first auto manufacturers to receive the ISO 14001 certification. HCM today recycles about 99% of its production waste and is working towards 100% recycling (Cambridge Center Honda, 2010). The company is credited with bringing the first Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) to Canada. In 2003 when it started production of the Civic GX, the car was rated by the EPA as having the cleanest IC engine in the world. In 2002 March, Honda introduced the Honda life cycle assessment system (LCA) to estimate the environmental impact of its products.
CO2 is one of the main elements that are monitored through this assessment of products, from manufacturing to disposal. Corresponding to the levels detected, targets are set for all domains including production, sales and service, and administration, with initiatives implemented to achieve targets. In 2007 Honda introduced the product life cycle assessment system (LCA) which revolves on the CO2 emissions from a single vehicle through its lifetime. The calculations revealed that 78% of CO2 emissions are associated with product use and 6% during its emission.
The company can now assess CO2 emissions more accurately, for every aspect of the vehicle’s life, thus contributing to reduction efforts. The CO2 targeted reductions are thus directed at 80% of the total emissions, with regard to LCA. Conclusion and recommendations All sectors of global economy are increasingly coming under environmental regulations to ensure that all business practices, no longer continue with disregard to the environment. The vehicle manufacturers are among the earliest to receive such stipulations as vehicles are a major contributor to pollution.
These manufacturers are faced with a challenge of optimizing lean manufacturing and environment conservation. While the two aspects of manufacturing are important, the approaches to both are different, and have a huge bearing on the organization’s success. Honda is indeed an automaker with a vision for a sustained future, as evident from its setting up environment based goals and policies, proactively. The waste reduction culture at Honda indeed has obvious benefits for the environment (Maxwell, 1998).
There are several societies and organizations that make up this world of ours. The culture and priorities of these are widely varied. Not all their approaches and intentions are the same. This reflects their attitude towards environment too. Although we share the same environment, there is no guarantee that competitors would be equally concerned of the environment. When some organizations take immense pain and effort to protect the environment, investing immensely in it, their competitors can easily make profits by avoiding or manipulating these.
Environmental protection requires fundamentally an understanding, a concern of one’s actions on the environment. Honda has set an exceptional example by understanding its actions on the environment, and taking cautious and big steps towards ensuring a sustainable environment. The environment is a common habitat for all, whether one indulges in pollution or not. Organizations should follow the footsteps of Honda with a sense of same involvement and dedication, for only then we can give a future to the following generations.