Thursday, November 06, 2008

Fivers for Drivers

Today, in a counter-intuitive stunt, members of the Alliance handed out free money to car drivers at a central London petrol station.  

Our 'Fivers for Drivers' campaign symbolises the money that car drivers would save if Geoff Hoon, the Transport Secretary, supported the EU's original CO2 emissions targets for new cars.

Activists wearing Geoff Hoon masks, holding a briefcase full of (fake) money, and waving wads of fivers enticed car drivers into the petrol station, where they explained how the forthcoming legislation could radically lower the emissions from their cars and the cost of their fuel bills.  Once the drivers signed one of our specially mocked-up 'fiver' postcards, we handed over a crisp new five pound note.  The 'fiver' postcards, featuring Geoff Hoon wearing a tiara, will be sent to the Transport Secretary to encourage him to support tough standards for new cars.

Recent research by the Alliance suggests that if car makers were on track to meet the original target (120g of CO2 per km by 2012) then car drivers in the UK could be saving a total of £382 million a year on fuel costs.  More efficient and economic cars aren't just better for the environment, they also help to make real savings for consumers.

This action was the first outing for We Are Futureproof, a new umbrella organisation who are pushing for innovative, exciting and sustainable answers to the big questions of today, on transport and a range of other issues.  

Blake Ludwig, Managing Director of We Are Futureproof, said: "Today we're giving drivers £5 each and in return asking them to make sure the Government plays its part in keeping the car manufacturers on track towards real progress and not opting for weaker targets."

See this news story on the Telegraph website for more details, and visit We Are Futureproof to download your own fiver to send to Geoff Hoon.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

London's Black Cabs May Go Electric

According to our friends at ETA, the iconic London black cab may soon go electric.

Chinese car maker Geely, which owns a large stake of taxi-manufacturer LTI vehicles, is currently developing its own plug-in hybrid and electric cars and is examining the feasibility of converting the diesel-engined cabs to run on battery power.

Apparently, a London TX4 taxi emits a whopping 226g CO2 per km, which is more than twice the amount produced by today’s most efficient diesel cars. As there are 20,000 black cabs in London, that makes a strong case for converting to electric power.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

British Government Tries to Water Down CO2 Targets

Our friends at Greenpeace EU passed on a leaked memo last week to the Guardian, which reveals that our ministers care more about protecting Land Rover and Jaguar and jobs in Germany than they do about action on climate change.

According to the story, "The government is lobbying to weaken new European laws to force car manufacturers to build cleaner vehicles, leaked documents have revealed.

The UK has already been criticised for campaigning to water down another key European commission environmental policy to generate one-fifth of energy from renewable sources.

Now a briefing document from the Department for Transport to MEPs urges them to support three amendments to the commission's proposal to limit emissions from new cars to 120g of carbon dioxide for every kilometre travelled by 2012.

The UK-supported changes include plans to phase in the new limit over three years; to extend the less difficult targets for small manufacturers to include more companies - including potentially Jaguar, Land Rover and Ferrari; and to allow "eco-innovations" which are not part of the formal emissions tests to be allowed towards the target. These might include solar roofs and more widespread use of sixth gears.

The briefing, seen by the Guardian, indicates support for similar proposals by the French and German governments and would mean it was all but certain they will be adopted by the council of ministers because the three countries and their allies control such a big chunk of votes, said Franziska Achterberg, European transport campaigner for Greenpeace.

The impact of phasing in the target would be for average emissions to be 154g/km in the first year, reducing towards the 120g target by 2015, said Achterberg. Critics also claim it would not be feasible for the commission to test the claims for emissions reductions for eco-innovations made by manufacturers, although the UK government proposals stress they should be "robust and measurable". The car industry has already been criticised for missing a previous voluntary agreement promise to cut emissions to 140g/km by the end of this year. Yesterday the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said average new car emissions had fallen to 158.6g/km in the UK, just above the Europe-wide figure last year.

"The problem is transport emissions are still rising; if we don't do something on cars and fuel this is not going to stop, so all the efforts to reduce emissions in other sectors will be undermined," added Achterberg. Last night the DfT said the proposed changes would not have a significant impact on emissions but would help manufacturers with long cycles between research and development on more efficient technology and new models, especially small companies with less flexibility to offset more polluting cars against cleaner models.

The UK was also going further than the commission by supporting a new limit of 100g/km in 2020, said a spokeswoman.

The SMMT said the car industry, which employs 850,000 people in the UK, was struggling to cope with falling sales. "It is very appropriate that today we do address the sustainability of the automotive industry, and perhaps remind ourselves that economic and social impacts are as important as environmental considerations," said Paul Everitt, the society's chief executive."

Friday, October 03, 2008

SUVs Targeted

Everyone knows that most males seen driving around in large blacked out luxury4x4s have one thing on their minds.


We were sent this photo from an anti-SUV guerrilla action in Brussels.
The text reads: A penis enlargement would be more climate-friendly than this show off car.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Do the Conservatives Really Care about Reducing Greenhouse Gases?

It's pretty well recognized today that human-induced climate change is the greatest long-term threat to humans and wildlife.

In fact, you would think everyone but the loonies would support measures that decrease our dependency on oil and help to reduce CO2 emissions. But that isn't the case. Our Conservative MEPs are working hard to help scupper new fuel-saving targets for the car industry.

We strongly believe that a tough EU regulation to reduce CO2 emissions from new cars is an essential part of meeting the carbon reduction targets of both the UK and the EU. Research for the UK Government shows that low carbon cars could make the single biggest contribution to cutting carbon emissions from transport. In particular, we see this regulation as playing a significant role within a range of measures to tackle emissions reductions from transport.

To date, the motor industry has not played a full part in tackling climate change, as the failure to meet the targets in the Voluntary Agreement shows. In fact, around the globe they have continually fought off regulations, instead insisting that any rules will hurt their industry economically.

Given the fact that cars form the single biggest category of oil use and that there is an impressive technological potential to make them more fuel efficient, one of the most effective measures the EU can take to reduce its rapidly rising oil import bill is to introduce mandatory fuel efficiency targets.

So just when we need or MEPs to be visionary, MEPs like Martin Callanan are pressing for agreements that favour German car makers like Porsche and Mercedes Benz who continue to build luxury cars for fat cats that are both heavy and polluting.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

MEPs Reject Automakers Demands For Watered Down CO2 Targets

In a stunning turn of events last Thursday, MEPs in the European Parliament today voted to make carmakers play a much greater role in tackling climate change and rejected car industry attempts to weaken proposed legislation on the fuel efficiency of new cars.

With an overwhelming majority, the Parliament's Environment Committee endorsed the European Commission's proposal to cut average emissions from new cars to no more than 130g grammes of carbon dioxide per kilometre (gCO2/km) by 2012. Proposals to postpone the deadline to 2015 and to lower proposed penalties to be paid by car manufacturers were rejected. The Committee also said that average emissions in 2020 should be no more than 95g C02/km, subject to a review in 2014.

This is great news. The Committee has listened to the views of concerned citizens across Europe who overwhelmingly want tough action to make new cars more fuel-efficient and cut emissions. The low penalties and long deadlines the car industry wanted have been effectively trashed. Instead a new and overdue target of 95g Co2/km by 2020 has been agreed.

According to the Guardian, the CO2 emissions of cars make up about 14% of such emissions in Europe. The commission proposals are a key part of the overall climate-change package to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020 - proposals that need to be turned into law by the end of the year if the EU is to maintain its credibility as a world leader in the fight against global warming. The overall package has to be agreed by the commission, the parliament and the 27 EU governments, meaning there is now likely to be a showdown between Berlin and the parliament before Christmas.

The car industry must now focus its efforts on driving down emissions rather than self-interested lobbying.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Baby Dies as 4x4 Mounts Pavement

In a startling (yet unfortunately not uncommon) news story this week, a toddler in a pushchair was killed by a yummy mummy driving a 4x4 on the school run when she mounted the curb outside the school gates.

According to the article, "Fifteen-month-old Finlay Woods was out with his mother and grandmother when the black Toyota 4x4 crashed into his buggy, outside Selwyn junior and infant school in Chingford, north-east London, while parents gathered their children from school."

Parents tried in vain to lift the vehicle off the child, while others shielded school pupils from the distressing scene.

Witness Lee Rivers said: "I was one of about 15 people who tried to lift the car up to get the pushchair out from under it. But it was too heavy because it was a big 4x4."

Flowers were laid outside the school yesterday next to a smashed pillar and railings mangled in the crash. The mother was charged with causing death by dangerous driving, and driving while under the influence of drink or drugs.

4x4 Sales Plummet

According to a news piece by Reuters, "Uncertainty in oil prices and environmental concerns are denting the prestige of SUVs or 4x4s for city drivers in the UK. After a shock rise in oil to a record 147 U.S. dollars a barrel in mid-July, prices have recently dropped to a six-month low of less than $ 100 US dollars. With consumers increasingly switching to low emissions cars, it's uncertain whether the 4x4 market will win back customers."

Click this link to watch the Reuters video.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tax 4x4s More, says Lib Dems

The Liberal Democrats have called for higher taxes on large 4x4s in order to help provide fiscal incentives for people purchasing smaller efficient cars.

According to Norman Baker, buyers would get £1,000 from the government when they drove new Band A cars — which include the VW Polo BlueMotion, the Seat Ibiza EcoMotion and electric vehicles which emit 100g per CO2/km or less.

Buying one of the Band B cars would come with a £500 feebate cheque and a lower annual VED tax of about £40 to £60. Band B cars include some types of Mini Cooper, the Citroën C1 and Fiat 500 diesel — all having a CO2/km of 101g to 120g.

The incentives to go green would be covered by higher tax levies on the highest polluting cars. A showroom tax of £500, alongside £2,000 a year VED, would be imposed on gas guzzlers in the new Band M such as some Range Rover and Toyota Land Cruiser models with emissions of over 255g per CO2/km.

Consumers Shun Expensive Gas Guzzlers

According to an article by Automotive News Europe, "sales volumes for large SUVs fell 44.4 percent. Sales of large cars and large minivans also dropped steeply."

"Large premium cars and premium SUVs also had double-digit declines in volume compared with the same period last year, according to an Automotive News Europe analysis of sales data from UK-based market researcher JATO Dynamics."

No thanks!
Big, thirsty vehicles had steep sales percentage declines in the first half
Large SUVs: -44.4
Large cars: -29.5
Large minivans: -21.7
Upper premium: -15.8
Premium SUVs: -14.6
Source: JATO Dynamics

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Vote for Less Polluting Cars

This is the time to take action for less polluting cars

The European Parliament is set to cast a decisive vote on 25 September 2008 on a bill to reduce the CO2 emissions and fuel consumption of new cars.

The Industry Committee voted on 01 September, producing an opinion which could significantly weaken this bill a great deal. Their vote is in stark contrast with public opinion, which seems to be common for governments these days.

A recent poll gathered from 5 member states, including the UK, showed that 87% of European citizens think measures to require carmakers to reduce the fuel consumption of new cars by 25% should be urgently introduced, and that Europeans consider climate change to be the second biggest serious problem (62%) facing the world, after poverty (68%).

It is extremely worrying and disappointing that the Industry Committee put the interests of the car industry over the people and the environment. Our conservative MEPs seem set to do the same. Both John Bowis (London) and Martin Callanan (NE) have written letters which show that they are more interested in protecting the industry then they are in pushing for better cars for car consumers using technology that is available now.

On 25 September the Environment Committee will cast a vote which will play an essential role in the final outcome of the bill.

Please tell your MEPs to vote for the people and the climate. And spread the news.

Vote for less polluting cars.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Jaguar and Land Rover Sales Down as Buyers Seek Efficient Cars

This news comes from ETA:

Fewer cars were sold in the month of August than at any time since 1966. The drop in sales has been especially hard on British-made luxury brands such as Aston Martin, Jaguar and Land Rover.

This time of year has traditionally been a strong time for new car sales because new registration plates were issued, but despite the fact the plates are now released in March and September and there is no longer a guaranteed peak in August, this year’s figures are particularly bad; overall sales are down 18.7 per cent on 2007.

Toyota and Land Rover have announced production cutbacks because of falls in orders and Britain’s automotive industry, which employs 815,000, is urging the government to drop interest rates to stimulate the market.

A spokesperson for the Environmental transport Association (ETA) said: “In the current economic conditions it’s quite understandable that people are unwilling to buy new cars, but it is the heavier, thirstier cars that are suffering particularly badly – smaller, greener, more frugal models are continuing to sell.”

The revised rates of emissions-based vehicle excise duty (road tax) has further harmed sales of larger, fuel inefficient cars.

To find the greenest cars, try the ETA's Car Buyers Guide

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008

Public Says Car Makers Must Go Green

The results of an opinion poll out today show an overwhelming 87 per cent of people in the UK think measures to force car manufacturers to make smarter cars that use 25 per cent less fuel should be introduced urgently.

Two-thirds of respondents thought that requiring car manufacturers to reduce the fuel consumption of their vehicles by a quarter would boost the UK economy - because people would spend less money on fuel and so have more to spend on other things.

And the poll shows there is a clear public appetite for green motoring - over half of those questioned saying that apart from cost, fuel consumption was the most important factor in choosing a new or second hand car - ahead of safety and comfort.

The TNS poll, commissioned by Friends of the Earth Europe questioned a total of 4885 people in the UK, Germany, Spain, France and Italy. The results come days before key MEP votes in the European Parliament which will be critical in determining future emissions standards for new cars.

Reducing the fuel consumption of cars sold in the EU by 25 per cent would cut average carbon dioxide emissions from new cars to approximately 120g CO2/km, the 2012 target that we have been pushing for at the Alliance.

These survey results mirror what people have told us on the streets: they are horrified by how much they have to spend on petrol and agree that they would be willing to pay more for a more fuel efficient car.

Consumers urgently need our MEPs and UK ministers to have some guts and push for stringent carbon dioxide targets.

The polling included male and females from all age groups and a range of backgrounds. 984 people were questioned in the UK. The results showed that:

66 per cent of UK respondents thought that requiring car manufacturers to reduce the fuel consumption of their vehicles by a quarter would boost the UK economy - because people would spend less money on fuel and so have more to spend on other things.
58 per cent of UK respondents said that apart from cost, fuel consumption was the most important factor in choosing a new or second hand car - ahead of safety (34 per cent) and comfort (18 per cent).

According to Friends of the Earth's Senior Transport Campaigner Tony Bosworth, "The message has come across loud and clear: people want car makers to produce cleaner, smarter cars that use less fuel, reduce climate change emissions and slash fuel bills.

"Politicians must act on public demand by standing up to the self-interested lobbying of the car industry and delivering the tough standards that people clearly want".

MEPs need to hear from the public right nw, as there are 2 crucial votes in the EU in the next 2 weeks. Go to our new action website and send an email to the crucial UK MEPs.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Car Makers Cancelling New 4x4 Models

In the wake of the economic downturn, consumer demand for new cars is falling. As a consequence, car makers across the USA and Europe are canceling or postponing plans to introduce new car models, including 4x4s.

According to Automotive News Europe, Renault, Opel and BMW are among car companies stopping or delaying planned new models due to difficult economic conditions. Most notably, BMW has axed its planned X7 premium 4x4. The model was to be aimed at rivals such as the Land Rover Range Rover.

Besides saving on product development, some European carmakers are also cutting production and revising down their unit sales and profit forecasts for 2008.

Here is a summary of new models being axed or delayed:
* Renault Espace, Megane crossover, Vel Satis replacements
* Opel/Vauxhall flagship, small SUV
* BMW X7
* Volvo C30 variants

Monday, August 18, 2008

Chelsea Tractors Worth More as Scrap Metal

Rising fuel prices are helping to secure the fate of 4x4s as a hugely undesirable car for the future.

A recent article in the Daily Mail reported that car dealers are refusing to take gas-guzzling 4x4s as a trade in towards new car purchases as the values for secondhand cars fall.

According to the article, 'There is no appetite at present for thirsty 4x4s that would typically cost £100 or more to fill up with petrol as fuel prices continue to soar, and become liable for more than £450 a year in vehicle excise duty by 2010 for models currently two years old.'

As the chart above shows, second-hand prices are expected to fall by 12% by Christmas.

'The one bright spark was with 'green' or alternatively-fueled vehicles, where sales rose 19.4 per cent last month.'

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Swiss Young Greens to Ban 4x4s from Switzerland

Today we received welcome news from our friends in the Swiss Young Greens, who are gaining support for a federal popular initiative to ban large heavy and polluting luxury 4x4s from the Swiss market.

In Swiss law, Swiss citizens can freely form an association and propose a modification to the Swiss Federal Constitution. The association collects signatures of Swiss citizens who support the proposal. If the Initiative collects 100,000 valid signatures the proposal is voted by the whole population of Switzerland. If accepted by the People, the Government must enforce the legislative change.

According to Vincent Rossi, about 150,000 signatures have been collected so far. The vote could occur in 2010.

With this large success, the Young Greens have surprised the Swiss political scene and reactivate the debate on consumers' 'freedom to pollute'.

Technically, the Initiative requires all vehicles that are too dangerous or too polluting to be banned from sale in Switzerland. Existing vehicles can still be used, but with limited speed. "Too dangerous" means too heavy or with a too high a front end. "Too much polluting" means emitting too much CO2 or fine particles. Swiss and international studies demonstrate the relevance of these criteria.

The Young Greens have set thresholds for private cars in order to especially target SUVs and powerful roadsters: 250 gCO2/km and 2.5 mg PM10/km. Half of the SUVs sold in Switzerland would be hit, while only 6% of the family cars would. A 'light or ecological' car emits about 100 gCO2/km. A large SUV can reach 400 gCO2/km.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Damon Hill and the New Tesla Sportscar

Today I caught up with Damon Hill as he was driving a black Tesla Roadster around London for the Greenfleet fuel challenge. The model is based on the Lotus Elise, and is in fact assembled by Lotus for Tesla in the UK.

Q: Good morning Damon. Can you tell us a bit about the Tesla, and what you think about it so far?

DH: Well, it's a sports car. It's designed on the model of a small sports car, so I think they're [Tesla] trying to say that, just because it's got an electric motor doesn't mean it can't be fun. I think that's very important to explain to people that this isn't some sort of puritanical kind of attempt to spoil everyone's enjoyment of the car....because those people love cars in their various forms, but we have to be able to make them accept the challenge that we need to try to make the world a better place and pollute less.

Q: Right. And how about performance?

DH: Well so far so good. I haven't really had a chance to take it out yet. I'm going to be driving around London as well, so the objective here is to see how efficient it is here, certainly on an urban cycle.

Q: Just practically, it gets 250 miles per charge, takes 3 hours to charge up, 0-60 in 4 seconds. How's that compare to, like a Porsche Carrera or something?

DH: I think you've probably got a ways to go as far as comparing performance to those sort of cars, but you could also ask, well, why do we need cars that perform like that on the road. I mean, the whole thing is an issue, and it's a question and I think by and large, it's pointless having a vehicle that can do 200 miles an hour if you're going to drive from Newham to London.

Q: So it's a nice way to..say your a business executive or a trader, you can still have a fun car but still, you know, flash around London

DH: I think it's about trying to be intelligent about it. I mean I don't think anyone wants to spoil anyone's fun, but we have to be a bit more intelligent I think about things because the message is quite clear that we can't keep on going like this.

For anyone interested, special edition models are still available for £79k

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Mundo Launch a Success

Last Friday we launched Mundo Cars in the UK. The Alliance is encouraging MEPs and MPs to get involved.

Jean Lambert MEP came and gave a great speech, and even helped us push for new fuel efficient cars.

According to Jean, "Londoners are forced to live with poor air quality on a daily basis and suffer the health effects of road transport pollution. Enough is enough. There is no place for highly polluting cars in London where air quality consistently fails basic EU standards."

"I encourage citizens and politicians to support this campaign for stricter fuel efficiency standards. The car industry should be making use of the full range of technology to make cleaner cars and the Government must support this change by introducing tough targets and penalties for those unwilling to reform."

The car industry is actively blocking meaningful regulations that would make vehicles significantly less costly to run, and that is hurting everyone while oil prices soar. The recent King Review pointed to the fact that although the technology is now available to produce more fuel efficient cars, manufacturers are by and large not doing so.

With fuel prices ever escalating, there is both an economic and an environmental necessity for cleaner cars. For our launch film we interviewed people who were filling their tanks up at fuel stations. They were horrified about how much they have to spend on petrol and all agreed that they would be willing to pay more for a more fuel-efficient car if they would then pay less for fuel. The public are ready for the cars of the future – now the EU and UK Governments must push for stringent CO2 targets.

We are encouraging car manufacturers to think big and be bold – and only when the EU and the UK Government push for stringent fuel efficiency targets will this happen in a creative and radical way.

Mundo Cars is already attracting political support from other MEPs.

Green MEP Caroline Lucas said: “The point is it’s not rocket science. Some cars have the ability to meet the 120g/km standard now so the technology does exist. That’s why the Mundo Cars campaign is so important. It demonstrates what the car of the future could be like. I think it’s an inspiring idea and an inspiring campaign. I urge people to get involved and be part of the solution.”

Robert Evans Labour MEP said, “The time for action on climate change is now. We cannot wait any longer for the effects to be seen across the world and so I urge everyone, public and politicians alike, to support strong targets on C02 emissions from cars. We must do more to discourage the highest carbon producing cars so that we can all tackle climate change before it is too late. Experts suggest the changes might be irreversible in just seven years time."

According to Fiona Hall, Lib Dem MEP, “some 19% of all Europe’s carbon emissions come from passenger cars and light-commercial vehicles. Absolute volumes are increasing because there are more cars being put on the road. The vehicles are heavier (up 15% in the past decade) and more powerful (up 28%) even though speed limits have not risen anywhere in Europe. We now need to set mandatory requirements to make a difference. I recently argued that the Commission's proposals did not go far enough and that the regulation should push for average fleet emissions of 120 g/km by 2012 achieved by vehicle improvements alone. Such targets would only be achievable with consequent penalties, which would put pressure on the manufacturers.”

Claude Moraes MEP said “We [Labour MEPs] believe that the car industry has had a long time to clean up its act and while progress has been made it has not been sufficient. Time has come for strict mandatory targets to be put in place as soon as possible.”

The automobile designers are the captains of the ship, not the consumers as they so often suggest. The industry signals the intention and the direction for the car market by their designs. To date they have been designing highly polluting and consuming vehicles. But times are rapidly changing, and we need a whole new evolution in the approach to making and powering a car, and that needs a heroic effort.

Help Mundo push for fuel efficient cars. Join the campaign.

Alliance Launches Mundo Cars

You know, back in 2003 when we started ticketing 4x4s in Camden, I never thought we'd be launching a car company. But that's where we've come to out of necessity. 25% of our UK carbon emissions come from transport.

Now, cars aren't going to disappear in the short term, as much as some of the green activists would like, so we need aspirational cars now more than ever. But we need cars that don't cost us the earth.

So, in 2008, here we are, working alongside groups across Europe to launch a new car company called Mundo. Mundo of course means the Earth in Spanish.

Most car companies advertise all the special things their cars Does - faster speed, better braking. We wanted to start a car company that brags about all the things it Doesn't.

Doesn't do what? Well, it doesn't use greenwash to sell cars. It doesn't create toxic levels of air pollution. It doesn't advertise itself in far away exotic places most of us will never go. It doesn't flout emissions regulations. It doesn't avoid change.

In fact, Mundo doesn't exist. Not yet. And that's why we need everyone's help. For starters we need to press for sane CO2 targets from all the car makers. They all need a clear direction, and they need a binding target to steer for. Challenge, creative friction and pressure is good. It's healthy. It's how all of us grow and mature.

So we need all of you to help Mundo to grow, to talk to people who can change cars to become Mundo Cars.

Mundo - Cars that DON'T. Instead of cars that DO.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Get Lost Porsche - Make Room for the New Sports Cars

Move over Porsche.

The futuristic sports cars for the 21st Century are being developed by Tesla, RiverSimple, and now, the Lightning Motor Company.

According to reports, "the Electric Lightning GT appears to have everything an ecoconscious lover of British sports cars could want: a luxury interior, a top speed of 130mph and acceleration that would put a Porsche to shame." The Lightning GT will accelerate from 0-60mph in four seconds and will be able to travel up to 200 miles on a single battery charge.

They replaced the fuel tank, engine and transmission system found in standard vehicles with an electric motor inside each wheel. There is no gear stick, axle or drive shaft. "All of the power is generated at the wheel, the point at which it's required, which eliminates mechanical complexity and power losses experienced in standard sports cars," the company says.

The new prototype car will be unveiled at the British Motor Show in July.

California to Shame Owners of Gas-Guzzlers

We were sent this cool article from the Independent today abut tagging cars so that everyone can see the actual carbon footprint of the vehicle. We had a similar idea to tag band G cars with a red label and band A&B cars with Green labels. The red tag idea was for the Hester Prynne effect, taken from the novel the Scarlet Letter. I print the article in full:

'As if sky-rocketing petrol prices weren't already hurting them enough, the drivers of America's fleet of Hummers, monster trucks, and gas-guzzling SUVs are about to suffer sustained public humiliation, courtesy of the green lobby.'

'The state of California has announced plans for all new vehicles to carry "global warming" stickers next to their number plate, giving car owners – and their fellow motorists – an instant assessment of their carbon footprint.'

'Under the scheme, which became law this week, a "global warming score" and "smog score" of between one and 10 will appear on green information labels. The higher each 'score, the more environmentally friendly the car.'

'In the short term, authorities hope to help consumers choose vehicles with low carbon footprints. In the longer term, it is designed to turn SUV driving into a social taboo on a par with smoking cigarettes. "This label will arm consumers with the information they need to choose a vehicle that saves gas, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and helps fight smog all at once," said Mary Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board. "Consumer choice is an especially powerful tool in our fight against climate change."'

'Green stickers are expected to start appearing later this month. New York has its own version of the labelling scheme due to take effect in 2010.'

'Whether the stickers work or not, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's commitment to reduce vehicle emissions by 30 per cent in the next eight years is already being helped by petrol prices that have broken $4.50 (£2.25) a gallon – a 400 per cent increase in the past five years – leading to an unprecedented drop in road use, and a collapse in the market for bigger cars.''

'Right-wing commentators, who call the most popular hybrid vehicle the "Toyota Pious", have branded the scheme as illiberal. They say it will add more bureaucracy to the state's already bloated vehicle licensing authority.'

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

London Mayor Drops Pollution Battle Against Porsche

Well, thanks to our new mayor, the car maker Porsche will carry on building and
selling luxury gas guzzling sports cars without addressing the problem of rising carbon emissions from London's road transport.

Early this year Porsche announced it would take Mayor Livingstone to court over charging drivers of the most polluting types of vehicles (VED Band G) £25 each time they entered central London. The German firm argued that the rise, due to come into force in October, was "unfair and disproportionate".

On Monday, the Mayor withdrew Ken Livingstone's proposal. By not challenging Porsche in court, the mayor was told to pay Porsche's legal costs.

According to the Guardian, 'London mayor Boris Johnson is to pay about £400,000 to Porsche after agreeing to scrap a plan to levy a £25 charge on the most polluting vehicles in the capital, it emerged last night.'

Last night Jenny Jones, Green party assembly member, said she was appalled by the decision. "This is a mayor who is telling us he wants to see value for money, and to account for every penny, and here he is paying one of the richest car companies in the world hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money."

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Push for Fuel Efficiency Cars

The Alliance joined green campaigners today in urging the European Union to 'push for fuel efficiency' and agree tough targets for reducing the fuel consumption of cars.

As European officials come under mounting pressure from car manufacturers to weaken proposed legislation, Friends of the Earth Europe and other environment groups pushed vehicles around European capital cities and called on environment ministers meeting at the informal Environment and Energy Council in Paris to push ahead with targets to reduce the fuel consumption of new cars by 25 per cent by 2012.

The EU is discussing regulations to reduce the CO2 emissions of new cars by 25 per cent to 120g/km by 2012, but car manufacturers are attempting to delay and weaken the targets. Friends of the Earth Europe points to the wealth of evidence that 120g CO2/km by 2012 is easily achievable, and that a majority of EU citizens would be prepared to pay more for a car which consumes less, although more efficient cars do not have to be more expensive.

If all cars met the standard of the most fuel efficient models in their class already on the market, the proposed 2012 target could be reached today.

As part of their campaign for strong EU legislation, and to increase consumer demand for fuel efficient cars, we have joined environmental groups across Europe and have launched a fictional brand, 'Mundo cars'. We intend to use 'Mundo cars' to offer an alternative vision of cars.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Is the Car Industry Headed in the Right Direction?

I came across an interesting article by Iain Carson in the Guardian. He argues that "manufacturers will only deliver improvements when they are forced to."

Giving us a brief history lesson, he cites that "One hundred years ago this October Henry Ford's Model T launched the mass motor industry. Simple and rugged enough for country tracks, it was also the world's first flex-fuel vehicle. Its engine could runon petrol or ethanol; Ford thought that farmers might prefer to make their own fuel from corn. In fact it was already as economical with either fuel as the average American car today."

"Until the Model T, nine out of 10 cars were electric. Gasoline-powered vehicles came to dominate as oil was found in Texas, and the battery-powered starter motor made internal combustion cars easier and safer to start, without dangerous backfires. Now the car industry looks set for another revolution."

"The most hopeful sign across the board is that the car industry, led by Toyota, has realised that it is in its own interest to develop alternative technologies that really work to cut carbon emissions. Toyota has sold a million of its conventional petrol-electric hybrid cars, and other manufacturers are piling in with their versions. GM [recently] reaffirmed bringing to market its Volt plug-in hybrid in 2010 - and said it might ditch its gas-guzzling Hummers."

"The Volt is an example of the latest twist in the hybrid - it can be plugged into the mains overnight, and equipped with a battery that can provide a range greater than 30 miles; the petrol engine is only a stand-by if the battery runs down. Battery-powered vehicles, even if the electricity comes from coal-fired power stations, are more energy efficient than internal combustion engines; if the electricity comes from nuclear or renewables, there is no carbon emission at all."

"Beyond the plug-in hybrid or battery-only car being developed by Renault and others, there is the fuel-cell electric vehicle, running on hydrogen and emitting only water vapour from its exhaust pipe. Makers such as Toyota, Honda and Mercedes believe that the car of the future will be powered by hydrogen fuel cells within 20 years, and costs are coming down as parts suppliers develop mass production techniques."

"Oil and energy companies are working with Mercedes and others to create a "hydrogen highway" carving through Germany from north to south. The European commission and the German government are putting about a billion euros into developing the network. Even if making hydrogen consumes electricity, the fuel cell is still more efficient than internal combustion engines."

"No one can be sure if electric cars, biofuels or hydrogen power are the answer to cutting emissions. What seems to be happening is that these different technologies are competing with each other to improve the carbon footprint of road transport. The tougher the rules, the harder car companies will work to find alternatives. And high petrol prices are already changing US motorists: in March they drove about 10% less than a year earlier, and sales of gas-guzzling SUVs have tumbled. Meanwhile, even if oil eases back to around $100 a barrel, the days of cheap motoring are over."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Alliance Wins Legal Challenge: Car Billboard Ads to Show Climate Impact

Car adverts on billboards and in magazines will now be emblazoned with the car’s climate impacts, after the Government yesterday agreed to change its advertising guidelines in response to the threat of legal proceedings by the Alliance Against Urban 4x4s.

The fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of vehicle will now have to be prominently displayed, arming consumers with the information they need to choose a greener vehicle – and one that needs to be filled up with fuel less often.

The Department for Transport admitted that it had been wrongly interpreting an EU Directive on car advertising, which says that fuel economy and carbon dioxide emissions information must be prominently provided in all promotional literature. The Government has until now exempted ‘primarily graphical’ adverts from the law with the effect that most billboard adverts did not include information about the car’s carbon dioxide emissions.

The announcement came in response to a legal letter to the Department for Transport from Friends of the Earth’s Rights & Justice Centre acting for the Alliance Against Urban 4x4s. We wrote to the DfT in March to point out that the UK wasn’t abiding with EU law and warned the Government that they would issue Judicial Review proceedings if the guidance was not changed.

From now on, it won’t be enough to woo consumers with a sleek and sexy image of a car in billboard ads – car advertisers will need to give real and readable facts about the car’s fuel economy and environmental impact. With rising fuel costs and a growing awareness about climate change, this information is crucially important for people to make greener and cheaper choices of vehicle.

In order to cut emissions from cars, we need both strong regulation on advertising and also strong regulation that forces car manufacturers to make more efficient cars. Today’s change in the advertising rules will help encourage car-makers to build more efficient vehicles, something they have so far been very slow to do.

Phil Michaels, Head of Legal at Friends of the Earth said:
“Until now allowed the UK was getting away with flouting EU legislation on car advertising – but our legal action has closed the loophole.

“Consumers have a right to meaningful information about how much carbon dioxide a car emits and how much fuel it guzzles, so they can choose to buy a car that will be greener and cheaper to run. We will be watching carefully to make sure that the law is now properly enforced.”

See the cars and CO2 campaign website here:

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

MORI Poll Says No Backdown on Higher Fuel Duty and VED

The recent economic downturn has been the trigger for the first wave of stories prophesying the end of the environmental agenda, according to the Green Alliance.

We have been hearing about hauliers protests and new petitions by motorists calling for scrapping the fuel duty and cancelling the increases in VED.

According to the Green Alliance, "the media analysis of these issues has been based on flimsy evidence. The public is not in denial, and doesn't want leaders to ignore these issues. MORI polling backs this up, showing that concern for environmental issues is actually still remarkably high."

They continue: "People are anxious about the economy and the impact of rising fuel, energy, and food prices."

"The challenge for politicians and the environmental community is to develop a positive policy agenda that addresses public anxieties, and reminds us all that the current economic turbulence is only a tremor by comparison to the disruptions that we face if we fail to prevent climate change."

"As Peter Ainsworth, shadow environment secretary, said recently in the Financial Times: “The idea that green issues evaporate at the first touch of economic hardship betrays a misunderstanding of the environmental agenda. The necessity to build a sustainable economy is not just a ‘green issue’. It is just as much an economic one; business as usual is clearly unsustainable in the long term.”

Sunday, June 08, 2008

New Health Warnings on Car Ads

Lib Dem MEP Chris Davies and the EU Environmental Committee have started a move that may see 20% of all car ads covered with health warnings similar to the one pictured.

According to Mr. Davies, "I want to encourage a shift in consumer behaviour which will communicate to car manufacturers in a financial way that it's in their interests to reduce emissions. Manufacturers of high emission cars hate this idea."

Londoners can attest to the anger of car manufacturers when they hate an idea; Porsche recently ran an all out PR battle to have Ken Livingstone defeated when he threatened to charge their beloved gas guzzlers up to £25 per day.

Promotional material including magazines, newspapers and billboards posters for new cars must currently include CO2 and fuel consumption information, although many car manufacturers fail to comply. The European Commission is now being urged not only to enforce the existing regulations but also to extend the rules to cover television, radio and internet.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

4x4 Sales fall 18% in the UK

Last week came the welcome news that sales of 4x4s has fallen last month by 18% compared to sales in May 2007. At the same time sales of smarter 'greener' cars have soared by 120%, according to new SMMT figures.

According to the SMMT, "sales of 4x4s fell from 13,617 in May last year to 11,126 this May, a drop of 18.3%. Even sales of smaller off-roaders to which many drivers have already 'down-sized' have fallen."

This comes at a time when 4x4 sales are generally slumping in the US as well, do to increasing fuel, food and energy costs. GM recently reported that they may stop producing the large Hummer SUV.

In the UK there is also a new increase in VED taxation as well as increased fuel duty.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Manufacturers' Claims on CO2 Emissions Inaccurate

We came across two interesting articles in the national press. Lewis Smith argues in The Times that the emissions data that consumers rely on to make more environmentally sound choices is usually completely inaccurate. Car companies are accused of jumping on the “eco” bandwagon to make their brand seem greener, even though the figures don’t back them up.

The article refers to independent testing by Auto Express magazine. When they tested the CO2 emissions for some 'relatively green' cars, such as the Polo Blue Motion, they found a discrepancy between figures supplied by the car makers and theirs done in real world conditions.

We feel that the article doesn’t mention the comparative point – if a Honda Civic is “advertised” to put out 109g/km of CO2 and “actually” puts out 171, then where does that leave our friend the Porsche Cayenne? Using the same maths, its claimed output of 358g/km becomes a sky-high 562. Just because so-called “green” cars are getting a bad press doesn’t suddenly make hugely inefficient gas guzzling cars less of a problem. In fact, we should all be worried.

The article reinforces the fact that most emissions and efficiency data is calculated by the manufacturers themselves, usually in completely abnormal conditions, so is both biased and effectively useless. What’s needed is a truly independent method of testing new cars, as trustworthy from the consumer’s point of view as the Euro NCAP safety ratings.

Labeling of CO2 emissions also comes into Peter Popham’s article in The Independent. He notes that the Europe-wide breaches of the 1999 EU Directive on car advertising have resulted in the EU preparing to introduce tougher new rules regarding the display of emissions data. He even suggests that cars will soon go the way of cigarettes and alcohol, and making them look “desirable” may be frowned upon.

This is an area the Alliance has been pushing on recently, through the AdvertiseCO2 website, and it looks like we can expect more details about what happens next at the start of June.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Our Friend Miranda

We don't always want to talk about boring politics and what manufacturers and the government isn't doing - so we thought we'd mention our friend Miranda, over at the Accidental EcoManiac

Introducing her blog she writes: "I never wanted to become an EcoManiac. I was busy living the good life, complete with retail therapy and long-haul flights. In fact, when I moved back to London in 1999, I thought our home would be just perfect if we added a patio heater and outdoor hot tub. Who knew I was an accomplice in the murder of the planet?"

She writes lots of great articles and provides links to new 'green' stuff, including 'hot wheels'.

Miranda's written us this Top Hole entry all about 4x4s: "The 4x4 phenomenon (in the US and now in the UK and worldwide) is a triumph of advertising and cultural persuasion over common sense. For a while, MPG was the buzzword and it seemed cars were getting smaller and more efficient (and cheaper). Of course that’s not great news for car manufacturers – or the oil companies – so they started supersizing cars (and their advertising budgets)."

"I remember the first time I heard someone describe a 4x4 as 'sexy' (maybe 1981, soon after Reagan was elected, but when the ‘oil crisis’ of the 70s was still fresh in the mind.) I was shocked - at that time small sport scars were the height of cool (and midlife crises). I suppose 4x4s hint of a sporty, outdoorsy lifestyle (though instead of surfboards or camping gear, most 4x4s carry nothing more thrilling than the weekly shop)."

"Throughout the 90s and 00s, cars plumped up. At first they looked a bit OTT, but as the years passed and more people bought them, the behemoths didn’t look quite so odd. And celebrities' star power rubbed off and helped make 4x4s 'cool'. The ‘safety’ argument helped salve any misgivings and made people feel proud of their choice – and happy to defend it. Of course 4x4 are not so great for other road users or us pedestrians, but hey, there aren’t that many pedestrians in America anyway."

"Big cars got another boost when the IRS tax system (US) had a loophole for some SUVs allowing a deduction of up to $25,000 for for vehicles between 6-14,000 pounds. Buy a bigger car and get a 'rebate'? Who could resist that? Not many: most people in the US - even teenagers - drive gigantic cars. But now many families are finding it too expensive to fill up their 'gas guzzler' in order to travel to work, school or the shops, and the 4x4 craze doesn't seem quite so clever."

"Unfortunately the UK public has also indulged in bigger and heavier cars. The advertising seems irresistible. A 4x4 glides through the Nevada desert on an empty highway. Another climbs a cliff - what a thrilling adventure! What if ads had to show the grim reality – a frustrated UK driver trying to manoeuvre a 4x4 on a narrow road in an English village (or even in London), or trying to squeeze its giant girth into a standard car park space."

"I just can’t see why many people need a car like this (especially not in London). If your self-esteem needs a boost, do some volunteering or try to become a better person. Driving a big car doesn’t make you a big man (or woman)."

Cheers, Miranda

Thursday, May 08, 2008

The End of Cheap Oil

Today I received an email about how to protest the rising price of oil in the UK. In case you haven't noticed (or just don't drive), the recent price of petrol is up to near £1.30 per litre

I read the email suggesting that motorists boycott Esso and BP garages and realised that the sender didn't really get it, as probably most drivers don't.. the era of cheap oil is over.

Now, we do sympathetically agree that the Big Oil companies are making ludicrous profits. However, the rising cost of oil is a good thing, as it will force us to transition to a non-carbon society.

It's not rocket science: oil is becoming more expensive because consumer demand is outstripping the available supply. And the oil that is left in the ground is harder, more expensive, and more polluting to extract.

Boris and the Fate of London

Well, the mayoral contest has come and gone and Boris is in. What this means for Londoners will become apparent over time.

One of our supporters, Nick, sent this along with his order for a T Shirt: 'Hi there - I completely agree with what you are trying to do, and am fed up with seeing these pointless vehicles around the streets of London. Its sad that the new mayor clearly doesnt understand how important an issue this is.'

One thing is for certain: we'll still be here, chipping away at the fat gas guzzlers, and pushing forwards for better, more sustainable and visionary transport solutions fit for the 21st century.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Young People Turn Backs on Cars

We all aspire to have a new car when we grow up, right? Fast, independent, status...Well, apparently not.

Japanese car makers are worried the downturn over the past decade is part of a deeper generational shift among their young consumers. Unlike their parents' generation, which viewed cars as the passport to freedom and higher social status, it appears web-savvy Japanese youth today regards cars with indifference – they no longer depend on a car for shopping, entertainment and socialising. A survey last year of Japanese in their 20s and 30s discovered that only 25% of Japanese men in their 20s wanted a car, down from 48% in 2000.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Richmond: School Run Charges for Hi-CO2 Cars

In another ground breaking move by Richmond Council, cars on the school run are to pay for temporary council parking permits which will vary in price according to the CO2 emissions level of the car. The pilot is scheduled to start in September.

According to the Telegraph article, 'Parents are to be charged up to £75 a year by councils to drop their children off on the school run.'

'Richmond introduced "environmentally friendly" parking charges based on vehicle emissions in late 2006 and now the Liberal Democrat authority has gone further by introducing its "permits for school parents", affecting hundreds of people across 13 schools in the borough.

'Previously, parents could collect a free permit from the school, allowing them to park on yellow lines or in nearby bays for 10 minutes. From September, they will have to get a council permit to park in bays near the school for 15 minutes.'

'The fee will vary according to the car's carbon dioxide emissions, with owners of small cars paying nothing, while most parents with people carriers or four-wheel-drives, pay the full £75.'

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Greenwash by Land Rover

In a clear example of greenwashing, Land Rover’s global green campaign, launched last month, boasts about the car’s unique relationship with the planet. The ads focus on research into biodiesel engines, a new carbon off-setting scheme, and sustainable technology, all set in stunning landscapes. Unfortunately, this company, now owned by Tata, is great at selling an enviable lifestyle pathetically without a real care for the environment.

Land Rover’s gas-guzzling 4x4s are bad news for the environment. The company has the technology to make fuel-efficient vehicles, but instead chooses to push urban 4x4s, which are unlikely to tackle anything steeper than a speed bump.

In the UK, road transport accounts for about a quarter of the emissions that cause climate change. It's time manufacturers started taking things seriously.

Our friend Peter did some quick number crunching for us. Let's say Dagenham saves 3,000 tonnes CO2 per year from their new wind turbine (as seen in the film below). Good for them.

Let's then assume each engine they make does 16,000 km per year at 400 gmCO2 /km. That equals 6.4 tonnes per year. Assuming a 10 year life = 64 tonnes CO2 in each engine's lifetime.

Landrover make 100,000 engines a year which will produce 6.4 million tonnes CO2 in their lifetime. The 3,000 tonne 'saving' from their wind turbine is therefore wiped out by the production of 50 engines within just 4 hours.

Now that's Greenwash!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Polls Show UK Should Double Efficiency of Cars by 2020

In a new poll conducted by FoE EWNI, 78% of those questioned agreed that, in order to tackle climate change, European governments should make vehicle manufacturers double the fuel efficiency of new cars by 2020 (40% agreed strongly and 38% agreed).

The YouGov poll also showed that, of those who knew what biofuels are, three quarters would prefer the Government to curb emissions by improving public transport or making cars greener rather than focusing on the alternative fuels.

Email Address for the Head CEO of Porsche

If Londoners would like to personally communicate with the Dr. Wendelin Wiedeking, CEO of Porsche in Germany, about Porsche and the way they are behaving like the ugly German in the UK, then please use this email address. Always be sure to be formal and polite.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Neither Porsche Nor Boris Can Drive Away from Global Warming

Reprinted from an article in the New Statesman by Tony Bosworth at Friends of the Earth:

"The mayoral candidates need to consider global warming when discussing the congestion and emission charges.

Car ads sell us a particularly seductive modern day fantasy. We are promised open roads cutting through sweeping panoramic landscapes, speed, freedom, and excitement.

But for those of us who find ourselves inching along in snarled up traffic, the lack of speed isn’t the only difference between the dream and the reality of modern day motoring. Road transport accounts for about a fifth of the UK’s carbon emissions – and research shows using greener cars could be the fastest way to slash this. Therefore moves by national and local government to encourage drivers to use smarter cars – such as the Mayor of London’s proposal to increase the congestion charge to £25 for gas-guzzlers - are welcome.

Ken Livingstone’s proposal has infuriated Porsche, which has launched a legal challenge against what it brands a ‘disproportionate’ measure. Of the 53 types of car that Porsche sells in the UK, 51 would pay the higher charge. In a document seen by the Daily Telegraph, the car manufacturer estimates its sales would fall by 11 per cent if the higher charge came in.

The London congestion charge isn’t the only climate-changing initiative that Porsche opposes. Along with the rest of the car industry, Porsche - which boasts of “protecting the environment to the highest degree” - is fighting new targets to reduce pollution from new vehicles by increasing their fuel efficiency. Could the bottom line be concentrating their minds?

Of course, if Ken doesn’t get elected as Mayor of London on 1 May then Porsche’s London legal challenge will vanish into thin air. Both Boris Johnson and Brian Paddick would drop the proposed gas-guzzler charge.

It’s telling, though, that neither of them would abolish the congestion charge in the original central London zone, pledging only to reopen consultation on the more recent extension into west London. Boris’s promise to look at introducing a flexible pricing system to target the worst congestion seems sensible – until you consider that many of the capital’s top congestion hot-spots are actually in outer London.

Brian Paddick’s plan to introduce a London-wide charge for all cars entering London from outside the city are certainly ambitious, but it would need top notch monitoring technology and drastic negotiations with train and bus operators to ensure the infrastructure is in place to shuttle a high volume of incomers into the capital and out again.

The Lib Dem and Tory candidates have also pledged to re-phase traffic lights to get traffic moving faster – a move which neither takes account of those of us trying to cross the road on foot nor tackles the central problem of the sheer volume of traffic on London’s roads.

The congestion charge is not perfect, but it’s a vital tool that, now it is in place, can be fine tuned and perfected in time. And it is crucial in sending the message to the rest of the world that global warming is not something any of us can simply drive away from in a cloud of dust."

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Dinosaur Hunt Leads Team to a Petrified Porsche

Today, campaigners from the Alliance Against Urban 4x4s led a dinosaur hunt through Berkeley Square to the Porsche dealership in Mayfair, exposing Porsche as a dinosaur company petrified by a changing climate. Unless Porsche adapts their business model they will become extinct.

Adorned in pith helmets and hiking boots, equipped with binoculars and dinosaur field guides, campaigners lead members of the public to seek out those last remaining urban dinosaurs, relics like the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, Porsche 911 GT2 and other prehistoric Porsche species. Their banner read: Petrified Porsche – Stop Being a Dinosaur: Adapt or Become Extinct, while placards asked passers by to spot the difference between an Anchiceratops and a Porschus Carbonosaurus.

Porsche forced themselves into the limelight in the UK by legally challenging the latest congestion charge plans. According to their legal papers they will be representing all band G car owners. However, preserving sales are blatantly Porsche's main, perhaps only concern. 44 of the 45 cars they produce are in Band G, and when the £25 congestion charge is introduced in October, Porsche expect sales to plummet by 11%.

Londoners aren't the only one's to feel the brunt of Porsche's position as a carbon dinosaur.

Porsche are also fighting any attempts towards meaningful and binding emissions reductions by seriously undermining the EU CO2 regulations. According to Citigroup Global Markets, "Porsche faces huge financial penalties if the EU's demands are not watered down. Porsche would need to improve its fleet average fuel consumption from 20 mpg to close to 40 mpg by 2012, to avoid fines of more than $736 million by 2016". To do this they would have to cut an eye watering average of 138gm/km CO2 per car in order to meet the current target of 120 gm/kmCO2 by 2012.

To amplify how ill prepared Porsche is for change, Herbert Ampfere, Porsche's manager for energy and environment, said that the new EU rules on CO2 could lead to the company's demise.

The Porsche Cayenne Turbo is one of the most polluting 4x4s on the market, emitting an extraordinary 358g of CO2 per kilometer. Its peculiar design is a prehistoric spectacle of both enormous power and weight. A Porsche Cayenne Turbo can travel up to 171 miles per hour, but in London you're more likely to be crawling along at 5 miles per hour in traffic rather than burning the tarmac like Porsche's ads might suggest.

Recently the Telegraph wrote "that 2008 is likely to go down as the year when even the most die-hard petrol-head realised that there will be no U-turn in the drive to abolish gas-guzzlers and develop more fuel-efficient cars. In the UK, Porsche's legal battle with London Mayor Ken Livingstone and the Chancellor's Budget measures to penalise thirsty cars may come to be seen as tipping points in officialdom's crackdown on the biggest emitters of C02. It's a situation being replicated around the world."

We expect to see a public backlash, and Porsche will suffer even more in its PR faux pas. Londoners feel that they, not Porsche, should decide whether or not to proceed with the CO2 charge on gas guzzling vehicles. To illustrate this point, some of the signatories on our petition against the Porsche legal challenge have included hefty comments such as the one below:

Mr. Robinson from NW11 writes: "I am disgusted by Porsche's attempts to prevent the imposition of a congestion charge on polluting cars in London. Porsche's stance looks both irresponsible and arrogant. And it is appalling PR. Even if the company choose not to support the ban by being so vocal in opposition they ally themselves with the past and not the future…Porsche are ensuring that they are seen to be irresponsible."

We feel that more actions are needed to challenge fossilized manufacturers, like Porsche, who are either oblivious like dodos or showing their teeth like velociraptors rather than clean up their vehicle fleets. Their engineering teams are perfectly able to make cars that don't create the excessive amounts of emissions of band G cars, yet that is where most have traditionally profited. With this new C Charge helping to change people's buying habits, the pressure is now on manufacturers like Porsche to produce and advertise cleaner cars for their customers.

With today's action we have focused the attention on a real dinosaur. We know Londoners will be watching to see if or how well Porsche can respond to the pressures for change.

Facts about Porsche

• Last year, Porsche also challenged the EU Commission as they drew up plans to set tough CO2 targets for the car industry. Porsche, who would be most affected by the new EU regulations, would need to cut an eye watering average of 138gm/km CO2 per car in order to meet the current target of 120 gm/kmCO2 by 2012.

• Porsche, as a member of ACEA have also lobbied for delays and weakening of years of European pollutant emissions standards for cars (Euro standards).

• In the USA, Porsche exerted their influence to weaken new CAFE standards in summer 2007. Porsche arranged for a Senator to offer an exemption ('application of an alternative average fuel economy standard') for small auto companies, and argued that as a low volume manufacturer, they couldn't meet 35 miles per gallon, requiring a weaker standard. The move was defeated.

• Porsche only produce gas guzzling and high-carbon emitting sports cars and SUV's. 44 out of 45 Porsche vehicles fall in Band G, the other in band F. The Cayenne Turbo is one of the most polluting 4x4s, with 378gCO2/km - that's nearly four times the level of the low emission VW Polo Blue Motion.

• The plain truth is - Porsche are at the top of the European league table as the most polluting

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Porsche Makes a Public Apology to Londoners!

Today, in a breathtaking turnaround, the German sports car maker Porsche made a startling public apology to Londoners, and Mayor Ken Livingstone's Office!

According to Managing Director Andy Goss, Porsche apologized:

“For being so pigheaded in pushing for a judicial review of the recent changes in the congestion charge. A bit rash we know! Sorry. But now that we think about it, the change does actually seem quite a good idea.”

He continued, “And ok, you’ve got us. With a few of our mates, we have been doing our best to railroad EU plans to set binding emissions targets for gas guzzlers by 2012. Can’t blame us for having a go though can you? Ok, so you can. But look, we know it’s wrong”.

Finally, he added, “Oh, and last, but by no means least, we should stop claiming we’re ‘green’ while making incredibly polluting cars. So we’re pleased to announce a new concept model, taking the 4x4 into the 2x2 age.”

Wow. We're still a bit caught off guard here at the Alliance, but this goes to show that miracles do happen, even in the 21st century.

If anyone wants to thank Porsche directly for their tremendously courageous turnaround, they can be contacted by email at or by telephone: +44 8457 911 911

Friday, March 21, 2008

Big Polluters Like Porsche or Rolls-Royce Have to Change

Today Europe's environment chief Stavros Dimas said that he personally sympathised with a plea made on the BBC recently by the former Shell boss Sir Mark Moody-Stuart.

In a Green Room article he urged the EU to set minimum standards for car efficiency in the same way they set minimum standards for fridges. He suggested totally banning cars that manage less than 35 mpg.

That would mean big polluters like Porsche or Rolls-Royce would have to radically change the way they make their cars or be banned from sale.

Mr Dimas said there was a clear ethical case for this argument - but that Europe had to protect its own industries too - and would stick by the current policy of asking manufacturers to produce 130g of CO2/km across the fleet.

Backtracking under pressure by the automotive lobby, Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, has done a complete climate change U-turn. According to the Times, “I will be standing up particularly for jobs in Germany’s car sector,” she said, under pressure from manufacturers such as Mercedes, Audi and Porsche which face big fines if they do not reduce exhaust emissions substantially.

According to Mr Moody-Stuart: " Without regulation to channel their power, markets will not deliver things which are of no immediate benefit to the individual making his or her choice, even though they may be beneficial to society."

This really is becoming a war between protecting the old economic industries and moving on to protect the planet. But can governments really afford to dig their heels in the ground?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Launch of New Website

Today we launched our new UK website to enable people across the UK to make complaints about car adverts that either have no CO2 info, or font type so small no one can read it.

According to the new website, most billboards look like this one. The font size should be large enough to read easily from a passing car. Here you hardly see the information at all, so it is highly unlawful:

But if the auto manufacturers really wanted to give consumers the information that they need to make an informed choice, then an advertisement would look like this example below:

Monday, March 17, 2008

new Video: Do You Really Need a 4x4?

A Welcome Tax Rise for 4x4s

Drivers of luxury 4x4s and other gas guzzlers are to be shamed into buying less polluting vehicles under new plans by the Chancellor.

In a shakeup of car taxation, buyers of VED band G cars will be landed with a new first year 'registration' charge of £950, before it reverts to £400. Other cars would be charged on a sliding scale. Cars below the threshold of 130 gm CO2/km will not be charged a registration tax. 6 new VED tax bands will be introduced as well.

Also welcome is a new report from Professor Julia King. She has called for showrooms to display the 'lifetime' cost of a vehicle. The study believes consumers could be persuaded to buy cleaner cars if they are told how much a 4x4 could cost them.

Example: A 4.4 liter petrol Range Rover, driven 12,000 miles a year for 10 years would cost more than £35,000 in petrol and vehicle excise duty, while a diesel Peugeot 307 would cost only £11,000.

There are also moves to introduce a colour coded tax disc system to highlight the most polluting vehicles.

According to the Times, the Government should do more to encourage manufacturers to develop new models. Sue Robinson of the Retail Motor Industry Federation said, "Consumers need to be given a proper choice, and manufacturers and vehicle dealers need to be able to give it to them. "

Mayor and TfL Prepared to Fight Porsche in Courts

Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone and Transport for London (TfL) rejected a demand by luxury and sports car manufacturer Porsche to scrap plans for a higher £25 Congestion Charge for the very highest CO2 emitting cars, including many of the so-called Chelsea Tractors, the most powerful sports cars and some luxury executive cars, as part of the capital's plans to tackle climate change and cut congestion.

Ken Livingstone said: "Porsche have a clear vested interest in attempting to block this ground breaking scheme, against the interests of Londoners as a whole. They should focus their attentions on cutting CO2 emissions from the cars they produce, rather than pursuing this pointless legal action which we will vigorously contest. We have already seen several motor manufacturers rise to the challenge of cutting CO2 emissions from their cars and Porsche should join them.

Michèle Dix, Managing Director of Planning, TfL, said: "The Congestion Charge scheme has been a success at cutting congestion and traffic, with around 70,000 less vehicles a day entering the original central zone. Without it congestion in central London would be far worse.

"The principal aim of the scheme remains tackling congestion. The aim of the CO2 Charge element and discount of the scheme is to cut CO2 emissions by reducing the number of very high emitting cars driving in central London, influencing people's car purchasing choices and by stimulating the market for low emissions cars.

"At the moment, 17 per cent of cars driving in the charge zone are in Band G, while just 2 per cent are in Band's A and B. We expect to see the number of Band G cars cut significantly over time."

Specifically setting out to Porsche why their objections are unfounded, the Mayor and TfL made clear that:

· The CO2 Charge is about reducing CO2 emissions from cars driving in central London, whilst reducing congestion, as part of the Mayor's Transport Strategy and Climate Change Action Plan; and

· It is quite clear motorists have the choice not to drive a high CO2 emitting, car in central London, given the wide range of lower emitting cars available. Along with the higher £25 Charge for the cars emitting the most CO2, there will be a 100% discount for the least emitting.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The 4x4 Ads of Tomorrow - Today

A new report from Belgium claims that 99% of car adverts published in newspapers and magazines and on roadside hoardings in the European Union are illegal, because they fail to comply with European Directive 1999/94/EC, which stipulates that a vehicle’s fuel consumption and its CO2 emissions must be "easy to read and no less prominent than the main part of the information provided in the [advert]".

Have a look for yourself: try to find this information on a car ad. If you look hard enough you will find it - displayed in tiny letters. Far less prominent than the "main part of the information", i.e. the advertising slogans. In practice, the fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are virtually impossible to read without a magnifying glass!

So they have suggested a new look for advertisements, which we think is dead on.

In October 2007 the European Parliament recommended - by a large majority - "that a minimum of 20% of the space devoted to advertising should provide information on fuel economy and CO2 emissions". If this recommendation were followed, a car advert would look like the picture to the right.

We think consumers have a right to know how much CO2 is emitted by the cars that manufacturers are trying to sell them.

ASA News: Hummer H3 'Greenwash' Advert removed

General Motors, manufacturers of the controversial Hummer H3 4x4, was told to remove any claims of fuel efficiency from their advertising materials. This follows a complaint to the Advertising Standards Agency by Friends of the Earth Scotland, members of the Alliance Against Urban 4x4s, and several NGOs. The motor giant's newspaper adverts claimed the H3 was a fuel efficient vehicle. However, the Hummer H3 is one of the least fuel efficient vehicles on the market.

According to Duncan McLaren, Chief Executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, "The notion that a gas-guzzling monster like a Hummer could be regarded as in any way "fuel-efficient" is laughable. We're pleased that GM have responded promptly to the threat of an ASA ruling, and pulled the claim. However, it remains the case that such climate trashing vehicles can still be advertised without any environmental or health warning. This would ensure consumers were properly informed of the risks such vehicles pose."

The advert claimed that the vehicle has "Half the calories. All the flavour" and that is was "Built for UK roads, it's smaller, fuel efficient...".

What else do we need to say?

Monday, March 03, 2008

Porsche's PR Disaster

Nobody could have imagined the PR disaster that sports car maker Porsche would stir when they publicly challenged London mayor Ken Livingstone's new C Charge proposals. And they couldn't have provided a better launchpad for our new campaign to push for tighter CO2 emissions standards for all car manufacturers.

First Dom Joly wrote a piece all about Porsche envy: "Weirdly, I don't actually mind Livingstone picking on Porsche drivers – not because I think he's correct about them being environmentally unsound; I think it's a drop in the ocean – but because pretty much everyone who owns one is a twat. I should know - I was one of them."

Joly continues, "I still don't know why I did it. I hate sports cars and Porsche was the symbol of every City moron that I hated back in the late-Eighties. It was the symbol that you'd "made it", that you were now a fully fledged cock, with your thick pinstripe shirts, Ray-Ban sunglasses and bulging Filofax."

Then I spotted a piece in a column by Simon Goodley where he writes: "It's a bloody cheek...Us Porsche owners are up in arms. We spend our bonuses on an expensive sports motor, so the last thing we want is to pay the same congestion charge as somebody with an effin' Toyota. We want the premium rate. I'm right with Ken on this one."

And now John Whitmore has enetered into the fray with his motoring editorial Charge of the selfish brigade. He writes, "So Porsche has decided to throw its toys out of its pram over the new London congestion charge for cars emitting more than 225g/km of carbon dioxide, and will attempt to overturn mayor Ken Livingstone's new London car constraint policy with a judicial review."

"This sham fit of populist pique fails to obscure the unbridled commercial self-interest that drives it, and reveals a corporate contempt for any form of public responsibility. Porsche claims that the £25 daily charge is "unjust", when it is not a justice issue at all, that it is a 3,025 per cent increase, which is irrelevant, and that it won't help to decrease vehicle emissions, which it will. The German sports car maker's stance comes across as a poorly conceived publicity stunt, and I don't believe for a moment that it is stupid enough to proceed with its threat."

Continuing, he writes, "It is because Porsche and other gas-guzzling manufacturers and their customers are less than fully responsible that congestion charges, speed cameras, speed humps and the like are deployed to curb their excesses. Now that man-made climate change is no longer deniable, there are no more excuses. Their behaviour is reminiscent of the US National Rifle Association, the cabal of gun manufacturers and gun-toting rednecks whose "right to bear arms" goes unchallenged by weak-willed or like-minded legislators, despite the horrendous number of gun deaths, as many from accidents as from crime."

We actually think Porsche bear a resemblance to ExxonMobile, who for a decade not only actively denied climate change was real and happening, but also prevented the US from signing up to the Kyoto Protocol.