Government eco ad proposals put motor industry on its guard

The car industry is facing further calls for green warnings to be included in ads, after the publication of a Government backed report.

The plans were published in the King Review, written by Professor Julia King, on low carbon vehicles last week. The report calls for more information about carbon emissions to be included in car ads, but does not go as far as demands from MEPs and opposition parties last year to introduce tobacco-style warnings (MW September 20).

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) says the latest recommendations are “interesting”, but that comparative information is already voluntarily displayed at point of sale.

The review says fuel economy and emissions information should be “presented in a more prominent and consistent form in ads across all media. This should include a requirement to display comparative information on emissions relative to other vehicles in class.”

The review also calls for a report on regulatory standards by the end of 2008 and the Government has said it intends to use its recommendations to “refresh and refine” its strategy.

SMMT spokesman Nigel Wonnacott says the body would be happy to discuss the proposals, but would oppose recommendations that threatened to “drown the industry in red tape”.

His fears were echoed by other manufacturers, while the president of the Automobile Association, Edmund King, who is not related to the report author, says too much information in ads could confuse consumers and set a precedent for lobby groups.

Car manufacturers may form strategic alliances to meet binding carbon emission targets, which were set yesterday by the EU. Sources say the EU may encourage manufacturers of high-performance models with high carbon levels to form alliances with manufacturers.

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