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