Cars are so ‘green’ that they clean the air: greenwashing alert

Nexo useful car like planting trees? Hyundai may have gone a little too far! © Hyundai
Batteries are recycled… only partially © StockDot
Plug-in hybrids, a “perfect” solution quickly lost their luster © Vauxhall
Electricity is good for local air quality © Alex Krasovsky
But electricity is not without blame © Peugeot

In the UK, a new regulation is coming in to clamp down on car advertising, sometimes too optimistic about its supposed benefits for the environment.

The car is able to purify the surrounding air, which makes you smile. This slogan was hoisted by the famous British broadcaster Top Gear in California, where the air was so polluted that it would finally come out “cleaner” at the exhaust after being treated with pollution controls. This assertion is obviously very risky, and the least misleading since Emissions from a combustion engine add to those already in the air. But this is an example of the limits of communication about the supposed benefits of a car on an environmental level. The restrictions Britain wants to tighten, which could lead to heavy fines for manufacturers who are a little optimistic in their advertising.

Greenwashing at its peak?

It’s green, it’s electric, but is it really clean?© Abarth

Slogans of green nature, clean air and carbon offset have accumulated in manufacturers’ communications in recent years. The famous “carbon neutrality” is often cited as a goal that most large groups have to achieve. But be careful not to cross the red line, some organizations tell us, and rightly remind us that true carbon neutrality doesn’t really exist.

On the other side of the channel, amending the Advertising Site Control Act may prove costly in any way for manufacturers who want to greenwash. The fine may reach 10% of the annual sales volume for those who violate the applicable regulations. This would amount to hundreds of millions of euros for the largest manufacturers. The British Prime Minister has made passing this law a priority. Obviously, the goal is to protect the consumer from false and misleading claims.

And one of the many reasons for that bill is Hyundai’s ad unveiled in 2019 for the Nexo hydrogen SUV. The Korean manufacturer then claimed that the Nexo was so “remarkably clean” that it “purifies the ambient air while you drive.”. And Hyundai went even further by explaining that with 10,000 Nexos on the road, that’s the equivalent of planting 60,000 trees. The brand may have quickly forgotten the environmental weight of SUV and hydrogen production, more than 90% “grey” (produced from gas) worldwide. The manufacturer’s reaction was vindicated by explaining that the tests carried out internally had well proven his statements. But the advertising regulator still ordered Hyundai to stop using the ad.

Pollution, it’s not always what you think

In terms of transport-related contamination, it would, in fact, be necessary to divide the offending particles into two parts. On the other hand, those that mainly affect the environment: carbon dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide and unburned substances have an impact above all on the planet. On the other hand, the famous particulate matter and nitrogen oxides (which can appear in both camps), which are above all a public health problem. If hydrogen or electric cars don’t emit unburned fuel or carbon dioxide/CO2, they’re almost as beginners as thermal cars in terms of particulate matter. Since pollutant emissions directly from the exhaust are reduced over time (catalyst, SCR treatment, etc.), the share of fine particulate matter from tires and brakes has logically increased. According to the interesting Study at Imperial College LondonIn 2021, 52% of all fine particulate matter from road transport came from tires and brakes, resulting in a 24% increase in road wear. Then the exhaust will account for only 15% of the particles that are particularly carcinogenic. This explains why particulate matter emissions come close between modern and electric heat. And why advertising regulators make sure manufacturers don’t trick consumers into thinking an electric car is “whiter than white”.

Is this article relevant?

See also  The public debt of the United States is 2.540 billion US dollars

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *