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Progress in Reducing Water Use

We began our Global Water Management Initiative in 2000, setting a target of 3 percent year-over-year reductions. In 2011, we announced a goal of reducing the amount of water used to make each vehicle by 30 percent globally from 2009 to 2015.

We have achieved this goal, two years ahead of schedule. We will be updating our global manufacturing water strategy in 2014 and setting a new long-term target. Our target for 2014 is a reduction of 2 percent per vehicle produced from 2013.

Between 2012 and 2013, we reduced the average amount of water used to make each vehicle by 5 percent. Between 2000 and 2013, we reduced our total global water use by 61 percent, or more than 10 billion gallons (see graphic below), by cutting the water we use in everything from cooling towers to washing parts to paint operations. (That’s equivalent to the water used for 1 billion five-minute showers, based on figures from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or enough to fill more than 15,000 Olympic-sized pools.) We decreased the total amount of water used around our global facilities from 64 million cubic meters per year to 25 million cubic meters.

10.6 billion gallons of water is:

  • the amount of water that flows over Niagara Falls in 3.9 hours1
  • equal to the amount of annual water use for about 99,000 U.S. residences1
  • 16,000 Olympic-size pools1
  • 265 million loads of laundry2

We report on our progress in this annual Sustainability Report and through our participation in the CDP Water Disclosure, which we joined in 2010 – the first automaker to do so. We have also joined the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Plants Water Program as a pilot participant.

In 2013, we began tracking process water discharge at our manufacturing plants globally. Process water discharge is defined as the water used in manufacturing (including facility air conditioning) and released to the environment or discharged off-site. (It does not include sanitary sewage or storm water.) Tracking this metric will provide greater transparency around water usage within our facilities.

Global Water Use per Vehicle Produced

Cubic meters per vehicle

2000 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
9.8 5.7 5.0 4.7 4.2 4.0

2015 target of 4 cubic meters per vehicle

Total Global Water Use

Million cubic meters

2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
29.1 24.4 26.2 25.6 23.7 24.9

Global water use broken down by source can be found on the data page.

Learning from Each Other

Wherever possible, we try to replicate best practices from one plant to the next. This is especially true when it comes to environmental improvements, such as water reducing technologies. Each of our plants develops an annual action plan of potential projects that could help them to reduce water and to achieve targets in line with our strategies. Project feasibility is assessed based on regulatory requirements, budget, cycle plans and other considerations.

The decisions for project implementation are based on many variables, including success of projects at other plants. Successful projects that can be replicated elsewhere are communicated across the company so that other facilities can learn from them and determine whether they would work in a different setting.

  1. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  2. California Energy Commission