Volvo Car UK has launched a three-point plan aimed at providing all motorists with a broader range of emissions information when they buy their next car - irrespective of marque - to help combat the UK's rising problem of poor air quality.
With the UK facing a fine of up to £300m for its poor air quality and the Environmental Audit Committee predicting 50,000 premature deaths* through air pollution, Volvo believes it's time to educate drivers of a car's complete emissions picture rather than just CO2 in isolation. Automotive emissions other than CO2 (NOx, Hydrocarbons and Particulates**) are the key contributors to poor air quality, particularly in urban areas, and are one of the main reasons why the UK suffers from one of the highest recordable asthma rates in the world***.
Volvo is proposing:
Using the government's own Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) data (www.vca.gov.uk), that's also available at http://www.cleangreencars.co.uk/, it soon becomes clear that when a driver selects a low-CO2 emitting model, petrol or diesel, the waters are muddied and they aren't necessarily selecting a low overall tailpipe emission car. And it's the non-CO2 emissions that are affecting immediate air quality and health.
The comparison between larger Volvo estate and saloon models against a selection of small cars makes for interesting reading. A Volvo V70 premium estate 2.5 petrol manual generates 201mg/km of non-CO2 pollutants, compared with the 1.4 litre Fiat 500 Start Stop which, counter intuitively, at 484mg/km, generates more than twice as many other pollutants. Similarly, a Volvo S80 1.6D DRIVe executive saloon generates 636mg/km of non-CO2 pollutants - around 5% fewer than the 1.3-litre Toyota Yaris diesel supermini (679mg/100km).
"In 1976 Volvo was the first on the market with the three way catalytic converter with oxygen sensor (Lambdasond®) which removes up to 90 per cent of noxious exhaust emissions and was the first company to sign up to the 1992 Kyoto Treaty on Climate Change," explained Peter Rask, Volvo Car UK's Managing Director
"Over many decades Volvo has been committed to designing and engineering cars that are kind on the environment and its drivers. Our cars perform very well in all tailpipe emissions and some, but not all, are best-in-class. However, this is more about encouraging greater transparency in the automotive industry across all emissions,"
"This isn't about reducing the focus on CO2, our campaign is about all drivers being given easy access to the complete set of pollutants information so they can make a more informed decision when they buy a new or used car," he added.
The Volvo three point plan in more detail:
1. Volvo Car UK will encourage the Department for Transport and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders to mandate a second environmental label covering non-CO2 emissions for all new and used cars up to five years of age. This would sit alongside the current CO2 label on all cars displayed. The CO2 and other emissions information shouldn't be combined in one single label as drivers still need to understand CO2 emissions for tax purposes. All of this information is readily available on the VCA website (www.vca.gov.uk) but needs presenting in an easier to understand format such as http://www.cleangreencars.co.uk/ and be made more accessible to all drivers.
Volvo believes there is room for a new environmental label similar to the one in the United States of America, run by the US Environmental Protection Agency which scores the environmental impact of vehicles, including both air quality and CO2 emissions. http://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/Index.do.
2. Volvo Car UK is launching a phone/PC App in the next few weeks to make all air pollution and CO2 emission information readily available to drivers for when they visit a showroom to choose their next car.
3. Volvo Car UK will create an Emissions Equality Automotive Air Pollution Think Tank to move the subject of emissions and air quality further up the agenda of the automotive industry over the coming 12-24 months. The Think Tank already has a number of high-profile members covering all sides of the debate, including Environmental Protection UK's Policy Officer Ed Dearnley, environmentalist and TV naturalist Chris Packham, Professor of Environmental Health from Kings College London Frank Kelly, the automotive environmental commentator Jay Nagley from http://www.cleangreencars.co.uk/ and Volvo's own environmental consultant Don Potts.
Further discussion and debate will also be directed to www.facebook.com/insidevolvouk and www.twitter.com/insidevolvouk, where conversation will be tagged #EmissionsEquality. You can view an animation about the campaign on YouTube www.youtube.com/volvocarsuk
Notes to editors:
*Source: Environmental Audit Committee
**The Vehicle Certification Agency's description of non CO2 emissions is as follows:
CO - Carbon monoxide reduces the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood.
HC - Hydrocarbons contribute to ozone formation. Some kinds of HCs can also be carcinogens and are also indirect greenhouse gases.
NOx - Oxides of nitrogen react in the atmosphere to form nitrogen dioxide (NO2) which can have adverse effects on health, particularly among people with respiratory illness.