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Car imports to display green credentials

Car buyers will have less trouble identifying gas-guzzlers when buying a new vehicle Keystone Archive

Fuel consumption labels are to be slapped on all new car imports from January 2003 to encourage Swiss consumers to avoid gas-guzzlers.

This content was published on January 3, 2003 - 10:48

The colourful labels, coded A to G, are similar to those already seen on electrical appliances, and will help emphasise cars that use less fuel.

The A category will be awarded to smaller, urban-friendly cars, whereas the other end of the scale will be used to identify less environmentally sound models.

The new classification for car imports is to be included in showroom brochures and price lists.

The initiative is part of an agreement signed last year by the Swiss car importers association, Auto Schweiz, and the government-run SwissEnergy programme.

Protecting the environment

According to Hans Luzius Schmid, deputy head of the Swiss Federal Energy Office, the new project is designed to help consumers play a role in reducing Swiss fuel consumption.

During the 1990s, consumption increased by between eight and nine per cent.

"The average motor fuel consumption of new cars sold in Switzerland will have to be reduced from 8.4 litres to 6.4 litres per 100 kilometres by the year 2008," said Schmid.

Schmid added that the labels could aid the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles by eight per cent by 2008.

This would be in keeping with Switzerland's energy targets based on the Kyoto Protocol, he said.

A recent Austrian study found that fuel consumption levels could be brought down by up to four per cent annually with the help of the labels.

Gas-guzzlers

However, Rudolf Blessing of Auto Schweiz says that while there is optimism about the new car stickers, they may not necessarily curb the sales of cars with high fuel consumption.

"The government thinks it will have an effect of about 4.5 per cent on fuel consumption," said Blessing.

"Our organisation is not sure it will reach this figure but we hope so, because we have an agreement with the government to reduce fuel consumption by two litres between 2000 and 2008."

Blessing adds that the use of greater quantities of gasoline by larger G-grade cars actually poses a greater risk for the environment than emissions from smaller diesel-fuelled A-type vehicles.

The European Union issued a directive two years ago demanding that cars carry fuel consumption labels but countries have failed to act.

Last week the government announced plans to impose a new tax on sulphur-rich petrol and diesel.

The environment ministry said the aim of the levy of SFr0.05 ($0.03) per litre was to limit consumption of sulphur-rich fuel and reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.

The tax will come into effect in 2004, if it receives parliamentary approval.

swissinfo, MaryAnn Mathew

Key facts

Seven coloured labels will help identify car fuel consumption.
The information will be included in brochures and price lists.
The initiative is part of an agreement by Swiss importers and SwissEnergy.

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