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by Brett Davis

Yes, that’s right, BMW has been barred from using such phrases in any future marketing campaigns for its ActiveE concept. The European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA) has found the BMW ActiveE design does actually emit CO2 and has since prohibited the company from stretching the truth to sell its products.

The EASA says that although the BMW electric vehicle does not actually emit CO2 directly whilst driving, the car needs electricity to run. The advertisement-governing firm says that charging the vehicle requires systems that emit CO2.

Possibly going too far?

The term ‘zero emissions’ is thrown about a fair bit these days. Perhaps manufacturers need to tinker with the wording a bit to emphasise the design does not ‘directly’ emit CO2, because unless you have a push bike connected up to a generator, all electric vehicles pollute the air in some way or another.

What’s next though? Manufacturing plants for cars use production machinery and methods that emit CO2. Are they going to take this into account as well, rejecting even the greenest gravity-powered designs of the future from reaching ‘zero emission’ status?

Anything that is mass-produced has to be considered as damaging to the environment. But the idea behind it is all about, well… as Gillard puts it, ‘moving forward’. If cars have come from emitting 400-plus grams of CO2 per kilometre during the days of the carburettor, surely marketing a car that doesn’t even have an exhaust pipe is a good thing?

  • NacaYoda

    I hope Australia follows suit.
    There’s no doubt coal and CO2 emmissions are involved in Australian electricity production.
    “Zero emmissions” is a fraud, and it doesn’t sit well with me at all when I see this terminology used.

    • Mikey_94

      That’s a very good point and I agree, but has anyone seen the Nissan Leaf? It’s got Zero Emissions written all over it… Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the Leaf sold in Europe? So what’s with the inconsistency? And I think that perspective is taking it a bit too far, because no matter what, the car’s production and/or charging will always have an effect on the environment. I think some people are taking the whole electric car gimmick too far

      P.S. Nice reference to the Gillard comment 😉

  • Mythfrances

    There is no such thing as “Zero emmission”. Even when riding a bike we breathe out CO2!

    However I can accept it if they put it “close to zero” instead.

  • Fenno

    Maybe they should work on perpetual motion….

  • billy

    So, technically even if your on a push bike connected to a generator you are still emitting co2 as you push the bike you fart on the bike your emitting methane. It looks like car companies will never ever be able to use the term “Zero Emissions” with that classification.

  • Andrew M

    I cant believe the Author of this article is siding with BMW and other manufacturers that clam the same.

    I say about time they cracked down on the false perception that these sort of vehicles arent responsible for any CO2 emissions.

    They have transferred their blame for emissions from their own vehicle to the electricity board.

    Its kind of like claiming combustion engines are zero emissions because Caltex or BP is responsible as they are the manufacturer of the fuel where the CO2 comes from.

    Now what needs to happen, is to take this one step further and make the manufacturers report their share of CO2 against the vehicle so it can be seen which ones use more KWH to travel “X” k’s

    • http://caradvice.com.au Brett Davis

      We’re just talking about the advertising here. Not the car. And if everyone believed every word of advertising the world probably would have ended a long time ago.

      Coke would provide a fantastic life of fun in the sun. Alcohol could be consumed with no side-effects and cars would be free, soft and run on air.

      Reality is, Coke puts holes in our teeth and makes us fat. Alcohol destroys pretty much everything and cars are expensive, dangerous and use a lot of resources to both run and manufacture.

      I am siding to the fact that BMW, and other companies, are simply trying to promote new technology, even if they’re not being 100 percent politically correct. Most buyers out there – such as mothers, grandfathers – don’t know what the technology is all about. Explaining to them that this car may or may not produce emissions when it’s recharged, and telling them to go buy a petrol-powered car is contradictory. Do they care if some electricity is used? Say goodbye to the microwave and television then.

      Anyway. Electric cars are unjustified, they do – as you say – transfer consumption into another area of life, but at least we won’t be tempted by two-for-one deals at the servo any more.

      • Radbloke

        I like you, Brett.

      • Andrew M

        Yes, I too am talking about the advertising.

        To follow on with your other examples, I am not sure of any Alcohol or Coke adverts that claim their products are totally healthy….
        They do claim their products are enjoyable to consume.

        BMW (and others) make a direct claim that is actually misleading.

        No need to say goodbye to TV’s and Microwaves, cause Im not saying items that consume energy are evil.

        Cars could have a CO2 rating of 1000 for all I care, but as you said, the issue is advertising, and as long as they dont claim their car emitting 1000bits of CO2 is green, then Im fine with it.

        On the other hand, if they are claiming Zero when techniclly it isnt, thats misleading.

        Advertising can imply all the stuff it wants, but as long as it doesnt make a direct statement that isnt totally correct. This isnt the first product that has had to change its advertising approach because of misleading/false claims, I dont know why you feel the car industry is being singled out.

        As more and more of these electric cars hit the market, I think it is important that they clarify this issue before it gets too big

        • Shak

          I don’t feel that it needs any clarification. They say the CAR is zero emissions, and it is. It produces no emissions as it drives. That is all the consumer cares about, and as advertising is aimed at the consumer, it is totally factual and informative. it may be misleading, but is fully legal and warranted. It is not up to the customer to decide how polluting the manufacture of a car is. If they did Toyota would not sell any prius’ and no computers would have ever been made.
          BMW did the right thing in implying this car Zero Emissions, because the CAR IS ZERO EMISSIONS!

          • Andrew M

            Im not going into the manufacture of the vehicle, and its associated pollution.

            Lets say every car manufactured causes 1 tonne of pollution, and that is just accepted whether its an electric car, or a petrol car.

            Now, Leave manufacturing out of this, (thats a totally different argument) and just talk about fuelling the vehcile, the part the consumer is responsible for doing.
            If it is fuelled with petrol, there are emissions related to that fuel, and it varies depending on the amount the vehicle is driven
            If it is fuelled with electricity, there are emissions related to that fuel, and it varies depending on how much it is driven

  • James

    Zero emissions can be substituted by “carbon neutral” if the manufacturer takes steps to restore/recover the losses, for example by paying for a forest to be replenished.

    • Shak

      Thats a method that i would support. Currently Toyota(to my dismay) utilises technology such as carbon capture and trees on and around its Prius facility in Japan. It has pretty much made every Priuscarbon neutral in its manufacturing.

      • http://www.fordnewsblog.wordpress.com Ben H

        You are aware the Prius is only ASSEMBLED at this particular plant?

        The batteries are produced from goods the world over and therefore, in their transportation, create perhaps thrice the C02 than any normal car would in its first, say, 6 months of (average) ownership, let alone manufacturing.

        But, still – it’s a start…

        • Shak

          I know. They have implemented so many measures at this plant so that the whole manufacture of the Prius is almost carbon neutral. The car on the other hand though…

    • Mythfrances

      Good concept, not likely to happen=)

  • http://www.fordnewsblog.wordpress.com Ben H

    I forgot to add to my last post..

    Why just BMW anyway? Why not the auto industry in general? Because the Nissan Leaf would use as much as the Prius!

  • Claffz

    Probably the most intelligent substitute would be “zero tailpipe emissions” or something to that effect.

    Gotta love that person who decides to take the moral high ground.

  • Komp

    It’s strange BMW got themselves caught up in this because the popular phrase I’m hearing around the motoring press in the UK is zero “tailpipe” emissions.

    Whilst pragmatically we cannot entirely eliminate CO2 output (yet, anyway!), at least BMW are taking active steps to reduce what comes out the back of your car.

    • Eric

      So normall piston car’s can be “Zero Emissions fill up”.


  • Dave

    I worried that the ESSA has nothing else to do than argue with BMW over Sematics (if zero means zero). Surely they have other more important issue to worry about.

  • Barney

    What about in Iceland where most electricity comes from geothermal or in France where most comes from nuclear power stations?

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