Clean car ads double but gas guzzlers still rule

Motor industry spending on advertising for the least polluting cars doubled in 2007 but remains biased to the highest polluting vehicles, a new survey reveals.

Overall more than half of advertising spending still goes towards the highest emitting vehicles – and a “disproportionate” amount on 4x4s, the survey for the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) revealed.

Greg Archer, director of LowCVP, said: “The trend towards advertising more fuel efficient vehicles is welcomed, but there is still a bias in favour of greater advertising spend on larger and more polluting models.

“Stronger promotion of the fuel efficient models that are now becoming available is needed to encourage their sale.”

Total advertising spending on the most efficient vehicles in Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) bands A, B and C rocketed from 20% to 40%, while spending on larger, less efficient models (in VED bands E and F) fell by half.

But, 52% of expenditure in 2007 went to vehicles in the top polluting bands E, F and G, which make up 37% of total registrations.

Of this, 20% was spent advertising gas-guzzling 4×4, despite the fact they represent just 7% of sales.

Advertising spending on the most inefficient band, G, remained around 20% of the total spend.

Just 12% of advertising messages now relate to car fuel consumption and climate change impact, the survey found.

The research will fuel stakeholder talks on guidelines for car advertising sparked by the European Commission’s call and proposals from UK environment groups for car manufacturers to develop a voluntary advertising code.

Jonathan Murray, LowCVP deputy director, said: “Greenhouse gas emissions from cars are falling but not fast enough to contribute significantly to our overall climate change targets.

“Car advertising is an important influencer of consumers in their choice of which car to buy.

“We hope to be able to move towards a situation in which advertising can help to better inform consumers of the environmental consequences of the car-buying decisions they make.”

David Gibbs

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