Motor industry displays low carbon awareness

24 July 2008 #SMMT News

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s visit by Rt Hon Gordon Brown to the British International Motor Show where he was one of the first to see the array of environmentally friendly new cars on offer, comes further evidence demonstrating the industry’s commitment to provide a range of solutions to tackle climate change. The simplest way for consumers to compare the carbon footprint of new cars is by looking at the colour-coded label1 on display in the showroom. The energy-style colour banding, as used on ‘white goods’ such as fridges was introduced by the motor industry on a voluntary basis in 1995 and is now a familiar sight in dealerships up and down the country.


The results of a survey carried out in June by the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership were today announced at a conference held at the Show when it was revealed that the label was being used in 93% of car dealerships.

“There is no mystery surrounding new car CO2 tailpipe emissions – quite simply, low carbon cars use less fuel. There is a simple link between lower emissions and lower running costs,” said Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive. “The colour-coded label on display at the point of sale represents the simplest method of giving consumers the information needed to make a lower carbon choice.”


Environmental information based on official independent simulated test results is detailed on the label, displaying the link between fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.


Speaking from the Show where he presented at the LowCVP event, Paul Everitt said “The motor industry is the most honest and transparent sector when it comes to reporting environmental performance and we have cut average new car tailpipe CO2 by more than 13% in the last decade and over the first half of 2008 it has fallen by a further 3%. There have been a number of new technology cars launched here at ExCeL London, so quite clearly, lower carbon cars are becoming commonplace.”


Key points to consider when looking to purchase a new car are:


  • Lower CO2 cars contribute less to climate change
  • Low CO2 cars use less fuel
  • Choosing a lower CO2 model will save you money
  • Lower CO2 emitting cars enjoy tax benefits
  • Whatever your needs there will be lower carbon choices within each segment



The LowCVP conference was just one of the many events being held at the British International Motor Show. Environmentally aware visitors can take a look at the dedicated Greener Driving Pavilion and Electric Village which complement the host of new cars on display in the main halls. Full details from




1. The label has shows a car’s CO2 emissions as grammes per kilometre (g/km) and where it falls within one of seven colour-coded bands graded from green to red. The bands are directly aligned to the equivalent bands for Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) road tax.


Official independent simulated test results provide a guide to the relative fuel economy of the car in different driving conditions and estimated annual fuel costs are based on the fuel consumption for the combined cycle driving conditions and an average fuel cost per litre. The annual VED road tax applicable to that car is also displayed, allowing buyers to easily compare the relative performances of different cars.


2. At €20 bn, the automotive sector is Europe’s largest investor in R&D, driving industry forward and helping deliver more sustainable motoring for the 21st century. Technological innovation has helped car and CV manufacturers slash CO2 and air quality emissions from vehicles. New diesel cars for example emit 95% less soot from the tailpipe than those made 15 years ago and average new car CO2 has been cut by 13% since 1997.


Each vehicle made in Britain requires half the energy to produce than it did just five years ago, saving an estimated 700,000 tonnes of CO2 a year. Total combined waste to landfill down by more than half, from 80,399 tonnes in 2000 to 39,862 tonnes in 2006.  For more details, download SMMT’s eighth annual Sustainability Report from the SMMT web site


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