As automotive firms globally grapple with escalating market pressure, the need for strategic adaptation becomes increasingly apparent. Investors clamour for transparency, regulators tighten reporting requirements, customers seek detailed information, and employees demand more from their workplaces. In this high-stakes environment, how can organizations structure themselves to effectively confront these challenges head-on?

A pivotal response from many Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) has been the commitment to achieving net-zero emissions, aligning with the diverse demands of stakeholders. Interestingly, our research reveals a dichotomy among these firms, with half targeting net zero by around 2040, while the remainder extend their goals closer to 2050. What stands out is the apparent lack of substantial differences in the publicly disclosed approaches of these two groups in their pursuit of net-zero goals.

However, a critical observation emerges from our findings—significant industry disruption is imperative to meet these ambitious net-zero goals. Despite this, the investments announced thus far in the realm of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) or sustainability do not seem substantial enough to realize these lofty ambitions.

The pressures on companies are multi-faceted. Public sentiment can sway through boycotts of imported vehicles versus those produced locally. Regulators, on the other hand, are escalating requirements for measuring, reporting, and disclosing targets and progress. Competition within the industry is not only about product superiority but also revolves around the level of ambition concerning net-zero goals or supply chain transparency, categorizing companies as 'leaders' or 'followers.' Employees seek meaningful work and conscientious employers, while customers require upstream information to validate their measurements, ambitions, and claims. Investors exert pressure for enhanced ESG transparency, holding companies accountable for their claims and progress to make informed investment decisions.

To counteract the impact of these pressures, companies must proactively understand the regulatory landscape, define clear targets, gain control over their data, and chart a course to reach these targets with a keen eye on interim goals and resource allocation. Moreover, ensuring that their organizational structure is fit for purpose is paramount in this transformative journey.

Enterprises can leverage tools such as our ESG Readiness Assessment to prepare for and mitigate potential regulatory actions. This comprehensive approach assesses the current state, aids in target setting, and monitors progress in a customized manner, ensuring companies are not only compliant but also well-positioned for a sustainable future.