Toyota chair’s approval rating drops amid accusations of emissions cheating and anti-EV lobbying

Around 72% of Toyota’s shareholders voted to keep Toyoda in post at the AGM, down from 85% last year and 93% in 2022.

Reuters reported that two leading proxy voting advisors had recommended that Toyoda, the grandson of the automotive giant’s founder, should not be re-elected. The AGM vote was on a knife-edge with many observers betting that Toyoda would be ousted.

Toyoda has been on the board of the company since 2000. Recently, shares have plummeted after the firm – and three other Japanese automakers –admitted to cheating on safety tests.

Glass Lewis, one of the proxy voting advisors that opposed Toyoda’s re-election, stated that the scandal is one of several “widespread” issues. It said it had questions about corporate culture overall.

The company’s reputation was hit as 2024 began with the revelation that power output data had been manipulated for 10 of its models sold globally. This built on the gaming of emissions and fuel economy data by subsidiary brand Hino Motors, confirmed in March 2022.

Climate lobbying

Several investors have argued that these scandals, paired with evidence that the company is not doing enough to advocate for progressive policymaking to accelerate the industry’s low-carbon transition, undermine confidence in its climate approach.

InfluenceMap claimed in May that Japanese automakers are taking “active, strategic engagement” against regulations that would strengthen emissions standards and mandate automakers to transition to pure-electric models. The allegations relate to policymaking in North America, Europe and Asia.

Asset manager Kapitalforeningen subsequently filed a shareholder resolution that would force Toyota to publicly disclose more details on its climate and energy-related policy lobbying. The firm did disclose some information for the first time this year and claims it is the only Japanese firm to do so.

Around 9% of shareholder votes at the AGM were in support of Kapitalforeningen’s resolution.

One of the supporters was the Church of England Pensions Board. Pre-declaring this voting intention, the Board stated that it has “serious concerns” about Toyota’s climate lobbying activities.

Toyota’s board has stated that it will not advocate for a transition to a 100% pure-electric portfolio. Its strategic approach entails the continued production of hybrid and hydrogen models in the coming years.

Related news: Tesla shareholders reject motions to enhance disclosures on worker rights

Related feature: Is the UK losing out in the global EV race?

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