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Frequently Asked Questions on Car Labelling and CO2 information in ads
- What does the automobile industry think of the upcoming revision of the Labelling Directive?
- The car industry has announced that it has drafted a code on advertising. Why?
- What would the code actually entail?
- Would you oppose EU legislation on car ads?
- Is it true that the overwhelming majority of the current car advertising is ‘illegal’?
- Is the industry against CO2 information in ads?
- What about CO2 information in ads on radio and TV?
- Some MEPs have proposed to save 20% of advertising space for CO2 information. Is that feasible?
What does the automobile industry think of the upcoming revision of the Labelling Directive?
The industry recognises the need for modernising the current EU framework on CO2 information and labelling and is taking active part in the debate on how to best inform car buyers, whether in ads or through a comprehensive and workable labelling scheme. The industry supports, therefore, a EU-wide harmonised car labelling scheme, including a system for colour-coding, which ought to be clear and easy to understand by consumers.
Apart from the supplying of CO2-cutting technologies, which the industry is doing, informing consumers about product innovation, building awareness and encouraging consumer acceptance of new models will all be essential to meet fuel efficiency standards. CO2-related taxation of cars and of alternative fuels, in a harmonised manner, also has an important role to play.
The car industry has announced that it has drafted a code on advertising. Why?
Consumption patterns will decide the faith of any environmental policy. The code is meant to support the EU strategy to reduce CO2 emissions from passenger cars to which our industry already contributes significantly with key technological innovations and investments. The automotive industry is looking to establish a comprehensive code of good praxis for car advertising, with the aim to improving the provision of CO2 information and helping to promote responsible driving.
Following common practice in all sectors, car industry ads are already bound by the Code of Advertising and Marketing Communication Practice, which was drafted by the International Chambers of Commerce (ICC). The additional code of good practice for car ads would build upon these rules. In a majority of EU member states similar additional codes already cover road safety issues.
ACEA endorses implementation and administration of the car advertising code at a national level, given the national nature of advertising and the existence of credible national, independent advertising-standard bodies set up by the national advertising industries.
What would the code actually entail?
The advertising code would be applicable to passenger car advertising in the European Union. The requirements in the code cover environmental claims in advertising, promotions, sponsorships, direct marketing and other marketing tools. These claims have to be reasonable and verifiable.
The code also concerns driver behaviour in advertisements and the way of providing information on CO2 emissions in printed ads and on manufacturers’ websites. It would stipulate issues that are in most cases already common practice, such as, for example, that manufacturers should refrain from encouraging irresponsible behaviour.
Would you oppose EU legislation on car ads?
That would depend on the content. The current Labelling directive already legislates advertising partly. We will be closely working with the EU legislators to help ensure a sound and effective revision of this directive.
The European auto industry is fully committed to reducing CO2 emissions from cars. Improved car technology has delivered significant results over the past decade and will continue to be a major source of further CO2 reduction. New car technology, however, will not bring sufficient results without accompanying efforts, in particular to shape consumer demand.
With passenger cars representing 12% of CO2 reductions in the EU, and an average car age of 8 years (EU-15), just around 10% of all cars on the road are renewed annually. Consumers hold the final key. The car industry, therefore, endorses a harmonised CO2-related taxation of cars and of alternative fuels within an integrated approach, combining the efforts of the car industry, fuel industry, policy makers and drivers. A functioning labelling system is part of this.
Is it true that the overwhelming majority of the current car advertising is ‘illegal’?
Some NGOs have indeed claimed that a majority of the current car advertising were ‘illegal’ because of insufficient information about CO2 emissions. They therefore denounce a self-regulatory system.
However, car manufacturers meet their obligation to publish CO2 emissions information in their ads, which is a requirement of the current EU Labelling Directive.
As the CO2 emissions performance of vehicles is gaining relevance for consumers, manufacturers increasingly give information about CO2 emissions in a more prominent way. This reflects both a market demand and the broader societal debate about the importance of reducing CO2 emissions from households, transport, industrial and energy production and other sectors. The car industry is committed to reducing CO2 emissions from its vehicles and will play its part.
ACEA endorses implementation of the car advertising code at a national level, given the national nature of advertising and the existence of credible national, independent advertising standard bodies set up by the national advertising industries. In a majority of EU member states similar additional codes already cover road safety issues. These self-regulatory systems usually work very well.
Is the industry against CO2 information in ads?
No, and it is of no relevance as the requirement already exists today. Furthermore, the industry is committed to reducing CO2 emissions and knows that consumer information plays an important role in this. However, care needs to be taken in regulating how information – on whatever topic – should be conveyed to the consumer: different communication channels will be more or less effective for different types and levels of information. There is a difference between reading a magazine ad and being advised in a car dealership. As far as advertising is concerned, not all advertising is automatically suitable as a carrier of information.
What about CO2 information in ads on radio and TV?
If such a proposal would be made, it would have to be looked at very carefully. Different communication channels will be more or less effective for different types and levels of information. There is a difference between watching an ad on TV and being advised in a car dealership. Advertising is not automatically the most suitable option for carrying in-depth or detailed information.
Some MEPs have proposed to save 20% of advertising space for CO2 information. Is that feasible?
Advertising and marketing communications take many forms. Some have limited capacity for the provision of detailed technical information about the product. Imposing a standard 20% minimum space requirement for one particular element of information (CO2 emissions) on all forms of advertising, as the EP has suggested, risks discouraging car advertising rather than enabling better informed consumer choices. Furthermore, advertising is an important source of income for the media in general and one of the pillars under the sustained freedom of the press.
To be of most value to the consumer, information such as CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data is best provided in a more targeted way that reflects how consumers make a purchasing decision. There are important but distinct roles for product labels, car manufacturers’ websites, sales brochures and other marketing communications.
Market & Economy
- Diesel Emissions Conference, & Adblue Forum 2013 Europe, 18-20 June 2013. ACEA members get a 20% discount on the registration fee.
Recent and Past Events
- ACEA Annual Transport Policy Event 2012: How Can Policy Reflect Changing Transport Demands? 6 December 2012,Brussels. Click here for more...
- Our Future Mobility Now "Innovation for Europe, Skills for the Future" Roundtable 10 October 2012. Click here for more...