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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 February, 2005, 18:35 GMT
Ratings show how green cars are
Cars at a forecourt
Cars will be rated via their CO2 emissions
A new scheme is being launched to tell drivers and car buyers how environmentally friendly vehicles are.

Cars will be rated on a scale from A to F, based on their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions - the same system already used for fridges.

Only electric vehicles get an A grade. Smaller cars score a C while 4x4 vehicles, such as Land Rovers and Range Rovers, score an F grade.

However, some motoring experts say the government scheme is flawed.

Under the Department for Transport's new rating system, no petrol or diesel car gains the A grade for being environmentally friendly.

Some smaller cars, such as the Ford Focus or Golf, gained a C grade.

'Bowing to pressure'

Most large saloon cars are graded as E.

Motoring journalist Steve Berry told the BBC there was a basic flaw in the scheme.

"I wonder if an internal combustion passenger car can ever been truly green," he said.

"I think it might just be a way of bowing to the pc lobby that seems to be intent on demonising 4X4s and the people that buy them and drive them."

He said if the industry was going to really help the environment, it needed to "move away from diesel and petrol" and "think seriously" about hydrogen-fuelled technology.

However, he added that all the elements that went into building a car caused more environmental damage than the car did during its whole working life.

"The most damage to the environment that's ever done by a motor car is in its creation," he said.

ENVIRONMENTAL LABELLING OF CARS
Rating band CO2 Emissions Examples
A <100 g/km Battery electric vehicles
B 101-120 g/km Toyota Prius 1.5 petrol-electric hybrid
Smart car 0.7 petrol
Citroen C2 1.4 diesel
C 121-150 g/km Fiat Panda 1.2 petrol
Ford Ka 1.3 petrol
VW Golf 1.9 TDI diesel
Jaguar X-type 2.0 diesel saloon
D 151-165 g/km Mini One 1.6 petrol, manual
Ford Fiesta 1.6i petrol
Peugeot 307 1.4 petrol
E 166-185 g/km Ford Mondeo 1.8i petrol
Vauxhall Vectra 1.8 petrol
Rover 75 1.8 petrol
Toyota Avensis 1.8 petrol
F >185 g/km Land Rover Freelander 2.0 diesel
Audi A4 1.6 petrol saloon
BMW X5 4.8 petrol
Jaguar X-type 2.0 petrol saloon automatic
Toyota RAV4 2.0 petrol
Lamborghini Murcielago 6.2 petrol
Source: Dept for Transport
CO2 emissions can vary significantly within the same model according to specification, fuel type and whether the car is manual or automatic


Send us your comments on this story, using the form above.

Here is a selection from the range of comments received so far:

All very well to have a car which produces very little CO2, but what about the energy used to make and scrap a car? I have a 16-year-old VW which does 30-40 mpg; presumably if I behaved as manufacturers would like, I would have bought - and junked - at least three cars in that time. Is this eco-friendly?
Graham Cumming, Geneva, Switzerland

This is a good idea in principle. But how efficient and environmentally friendly are these electric cars really? Where does the electricity come from? How efficient are they over the whole process? Are they environmentally level A cars or city pollution friendly level A cars. There is a big difference.
Neil Farmer, Glasgow

This is yet another worthless study. Electric vehicles require the electricity to be generated in the first place, in the UK that is mostly from burning natural gas which produces C02. Furthermore no account is taken of the problem of battery disposal, affecting hybrids and electric cars. It also ignores the energy consumed and the pollution that occurs in the production and disposal of the vehicles. On their own, these figures are technically quite worthless and are likely to mislead the public. If one wants a 'green' vehicle then the whole product lifecycle needs to be analysed, from raw material extraction right through to final waste disposal.
Richard Ward, UK & USA

The rating of battery electric cars as band A, based on their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, is flawed. Zero emission at point of use does not take into account the environmental effects of electricity generation and losses in transmission to charge the batteries. Fossil fuel power stations all emit CO2.
David, Sussex

If carbon dioxide is the measure for greenness then anything that burns hydro-carbons is never going to be green. Hydrogen cars produce water vapour (although some NO2 is produced in the combustion process) so could be reasonably green as an internal combustion engine. The real answer would be to discover some new method of power generation - budding Einsteins start here.
Rod Main, Newhaven UK

I think it is arguable whether even an electric car can be classed as green since the electricity they run on will still produce emissions whilst its being generated. I think the only personal transport that is really A grade green is the bicycle. I don't think there's anything wrong with demonising 4x4's - they are wasteful, selfish, dangerous and dirty, and its time their owners faced up to the damage they do to our environment.
Pete Taylor, London, UK

Rating vehicles only based on Co2 emissions is a flawed generalisation - there are many other combustion by-products produced that are also damaging to the environment. It is also relative - for example if you travel extensively by air, by reducing the number of journeys you make you can have a far larger impact on the environment than by switching to a slightly smaller, more efficient car.
Jon Webb, Henley upon Thames



BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
How the new colour coded labels will work



SEE ALSO:
Fuel-cell car hopes played down
11 Mar 03 |  Science/Nature
Q&A: UK's carbon targets
08 Dec 04 |  Science/Nature
Eco-car goes for record
04 Aug 03 |  Scotland


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