The German Federal Council today passed a controversial emissions labeling system very similar to the fuel economy letter grading system nearly passed by the EPA and the DOT a few months ago.
The AFP reports that the German government will base a vehicle’s letter grade by using a formula that combines both CO2 emissions and the vehicle's curb weight. The most efficient and “green” cars would earn an “A+” while the highest gas-guzzling offenders could earn as low as a “G” grade. Under the new classification system, the Porsche Cayenne Hybrid and the Audi Q7 3.0 TDI would earn the same “B” grade as the Toyota Aygo (a euro-market subcompact smaller than our Toyota Yaris). Both the German SUVs emit approximately 190 grams per kilometer of C02 emissions, while the Toyota small car emits about 100g/km.
Environmental groups throughout Germany and Europe claim that the labeling system favors German car companies and will mislead consumers into thinking that a vehicle is “greener” than it actually is. Gerd Lottesiepen, a spokesperson for the Berlin-based Verkehrsclub Deutschland environmental group, said the labels are “greenwashing in its worst form. The rules that are being voted on were effectively co-written by the car industry.” Instead, the group proposes a letter grade no higher than a “C” for any car emitting more than 130g/km.
A few automakers are also siding with the environmental groups. Renault is against the inclusion of the car’s weight for the labeling system and prefers “an absolute label that would better favour the environment.” A number of European countries already have labeling systems based on the efficiency and amount of CO2 levels emitted from cars. The United Kingdom and France go a step further by employing a tax system based on a car’s emissions.
The German government will implement the new system this fall, which will expire and will be reevaluated in three years.