Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Legal Challenge By Porsche Highlights How Polluting Their Cars Are

Porsche’s legal challenge today over new Congestion Charge plans highlights how polluting their cars actually are. Porsche only produce gas guzzling and high-carbon emitting sports cars and SUV’s falling in VED tax bands F & G.

In fact – rather than focusing on the C Charge, the spotlight should be on the Porsche Cayenne Turbo. It is one of the most polluting 4x4s, with 378gCO2/km - that's nearly four times the level of the lowest emission petrol car, the VW Polo Blue Motion.

We think Londoners, not Porsche, should decide whether or not to proceed with the CO2 charge on gas guzzling vehicles. They will have the chance to do so at the ballot box on 1 May, because if they don't like Ken Livingstone's proposal they can vote for one of the candidates who oppose it.

What Porsche are trying to do is use the courts is stop Londoners from being able to take that democratic decision about their city - because they know this measure is popular with Londoners.

We know from the enormous amount of support for our campaign, and from our own surveys, that charging the most polluting cars a higher congestion charge is already very popular with the public. When we started campaigning for this measure in 2005, we asked 5,400 shoppers in central London their opinion and 95 percent agreed with the idea. This level of support has been mirrored in similar surveys done.

The new C Charge follows the polluter-pays principle. Why should ordinary Londoners who are making efforts to reduce their carbon footprint have to, in fact, subsidize those who choose to pollute more? The CO2 charge is designed to encourage people not to drive the most polluting cars. If anyone needs a large family car there are plenty of good cars in band F. And if they do choose to drive a band G gas-guzzler then they should have to pay for the pollution they inflict on everyone else.

This measure sends a strong and clear message to those manufacturers, like Porsche, who are putting their heads in the sand rather than clean up their vehicle fleets. They are perfectly able to make cars in every class, including 4x4s, 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 to produce and advertise cleaner cars for their UK customers.

We don’t see BMW fighting the C Charge – in fact, BMW and MINI’s market were strengthened with the Mayor of London’s announcement of a new charging structure for entering the capital. There would be no C Charge for the BMW 118d three- and five-door, MINI Cooper D and MINI Cooper D Clubman.

Unlike BMW, who have premier sports models falling in Band B, 43 out of 45 Porsche vehicles fall in Band G, the 2 others in band F. The truth is, Porsche are at the top of the league table as the most polluting carmaker.

Last year, Porsche 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 average of 138gCO2/km per car. Now the German car manufacturer wants to threaten Londoners for wanting to do something about climate change.