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.