Print This Post
Medium: Internet (Company Website)
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10, 15.2, 15.3
The advertisement featured images of various Volkswagen models and stated the following:
“The Volkswagen Climate Action Grant.
We all want to change our planet for the better. That’s why, with the Volkswagen Climate Action Grant, if you’re driving a Euro 1-4 standard emissions car, you could get up to
€5,000 off a new Volkswagen.
Choose a new plug-in hybrid, fully-electric, petrol or efficient diesel model and we well take your old car off our roads.
What is the Volkswagen Climate Action Grant?
Volkswagen recognise that climate action change is one of the greatest challenges of our times. With transport accounting for 14% of global C02 emissions, it is imperative that we begin the reduction of C02 emissions from vehicles on Irish roads.
This transformation can begin by replacing older, higher-emitting vehicles with new, more efficient engines. It is clear that the Government of Ireland shares this belief, as it is evident with the announcement of Budget 2020. By replacing the existing diesel surcharge with the NOx emissions tax, this will help renew the fleet of older, high-emission models on Irish roads with new, more efficient plug-in-hybrid fully-electric, petrol and diesel models.
The Volkswagen Climate Action Grant is our way of helping replace older cars currently on Irish roads with newer, more environmentally friendly Volkswagen models, including plug-in hybrid, fully-electric, petrol or efficient diesel engines. It promotes the changeover to climate-and health-compatible mobility on Ireland’s roads by reducing the-cost-to- change to a lower emissions or zero-emissions car.
If you are currently driving a Euro 1-4 emissions standard passenger car and would like to replace it with a more environmentally friendly model, we’ll give you a Volkswagen Climate Action Grant for up to €5,000 against the purchase of a new Volkswagen model. Better yet, we will accept Euro 1-4 emissions standard passenger cars from any manufacturer for this offer”.
The complainant considered the advertising to be misleading and raised two issues.
The complainant said that the purchase of petrol and diesel cars, even if they were more efficient than older models, could not be considered to be ‘climate action’.
The complainant said that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has stated explicitly that the world must dramatically cut fossil fuel use, including oil, by 2030, if there was to be any hope of keeping global temperature rise to 1.5C. In this context, the complainant considered that encouraging the purchase of fossil fuel cars, which could remain on Irish roads for another 10-15 years could not be considered climate action as it would lock Irish car users into carbon intensive infrastructure, which would continue to emit emissions for years to come. The complainant said that allowing companies to call it climate action in advertising was the height of greenwashing (1).
The complainant said that the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) operated an electric vehicle grant scheme which supported genuine climate action in the form of encouraging the purchase of hybrid cards (i.e., cars that use fossil fuels but also use electricity) or fully electric cars. The use of the word 'grant' in the advertisement, specifically implied that the Volkswagen promotion was a government-backed scheme when this was not the case.
(1) behaviour or activities that make people believe that a company is doing more to protect the environment than it really is. Source: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/greenwashing
The advertisers said that Volkswagen was the first auto manufacturer to commit to the Paris Climate Agreement to reach total carbon neutrality by 2050 and they looked forward to the launch, promotion and proliferation of fully electric Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV)(2), carbon-neutral vehicles in Ireland.
They said the promotion was designed to incentivise consumers to remove their older, higher-emitting vehicles from the road and replace them with cleaner, newer models, including fully electric, plug-in hybrid, and significantly cleaner EU6 emission diesel and petrol models which reach much tighter EU limits for atmospheric pollutants such as particulates and nitrogen oxide for vehicles sold in the EU market (3).
They said that it was widely accepted that a shift from internal combustion engines to electric or plug-in hybrid models would be the best way to lower harmful emissions from the automotive sector as these were the only models that allowed emission-free driving. They said that according to information sourced from beepbeep.ie (4) such models accounted for approximately 4% of all new car sales in Ireland for 2019.
The advertisers said that since running the promotion, Volkswagen had become the first car company to launch a fully electric vehicle (ID.3) in the Irish market that was delivered to the end user with a carbon-neutral balance (combination of carbon-neutral sourcing and manufacture and carbon credits where net zero emissions were not possible i.e., freight logistics etc.) The goal was not to rely on carbon credits in the future with their next model of the ID.3 being launched in 2021.
The advertisers pointed out that the word ‘Grant’ was defined by the Oxford and Collins English Dictionaries as: a sum of money that is given by the government or by another organisation to be used for a particular purpose”.
They said that the Volkswagen Climate Action Grant was designed to scrap and replace older, higher-polluting vehicles with newer, more efficient vehicles, including fully electric, plug-in hybrid, EU5/6 Petrol and Diesel models which as previously mentioned reach much tighter EU limits for atmospheric pollutants such as particulates and nitrogen oxide for vehicles sold in in the EU market (5) by financially incentivising customers to do so, thus having a net positive effect on vehicle emissions in Ireland resulting in a positive result for the climate.
They refuted the claim that a grant was only something that could be provided by a Government Department or scheme and said they had highlighted and had always referred to the grant which they provided as the ‘Volkswagen Climate Action Grant’ and had never indicated that it was a state-sponsored initiative.
The advertisers said that the key information in their advertising had highlighted the fact that the Volkswagen Climate Action Grant was available to consumers who wanted to scrap and remove their older, higher polluting vehicle (with a Euro 1-4 Emissions Regulation score) for a fully-electric or plug-in hybrid Volkswagen model. Furthermore, the Grant could be used in addition to the SEAI Grant. In order to make a more meaningful contribution to lowering emissions from Irish roads, the Volkswagen Climate Action Grant was also available for consumers who wanted a new, significantly more efficient petrol or diesel model with a Euro 5 or 6 Emissions Regulation Score.
In conclusion, the advertisers said that the promotion in question was no longer running but that if they were to use it again, they would take this complainant’s views into consideration.
(2) A battery electric vehicle (BEV), pure electric vehicle, only-electric vehicle or all-electric vehicle is a type of electric vehicle (EV) that exclusively uses chemical energy stored in rechargeable battery packs, with no secondary source of propulsion (e.g. hydrogen fuel cell, internal combustion engine, etc.).
(3) Regulation (EC) No. 715/2007 and it’s implementing Regulation (EC) No. 692/2008 set emission limits, known as Euro 5 and Euro 6, of atmospheric pollutants such as particulates and nitrogen oxide for vehicles sold in the EU market - https://www.rsa.ie/Documents/Vehicle%20Std%20Leg/Information%20Notes/Information%20Note%20for%20Euro%2 05%20and%206%20Emissions%20Regulations%20for%20light%20passenger%20and%20commercial%20vehicles% 20amended%20Feb%202012.pdf
(4) Every dealer on beepbeep.ie is a member of the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI). Source: https://www.beepbeep.ie/en/about-us
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response.
Issue 1 – Complaint not Upheld.
The Committee noted the concerns raised by the complainant in relation to the purchase of petrol and diesel models and how even if they were more efficient, such models could not be considered to represent climate action. The Committee considered, however, that the content of the advertising had centred on ‘Climate action change’ and reducing CO2 emissions from older vehicles on Irish Roads. They considered that most consumers would accept that climate action change was being brought about on an on-going basis. The Committee accepted that replacing older higher-emitting vehicles, with cleaner, newer models producing less CO2 emissions was one initiative which helped to contribute to climate action change.
In the circumstances the Complaints Committee did not consider that there was a breach of the Code on the basis suggested in the complaint”.
Issue 2 – Complaint not Upheld.
The Committee considered that it was clear from the advertisement that the ‘grant’ in question was being provided by Volkswagen to customers who were qualified to replace an older vehicle with a newer, more environmentally friendly Volkswagen model. They did not consider it to be in breach of the requirements of the Code for advertisers to provide such an incentive in a marketing communication.
The Committee concluded that the advertising was not in breach of the Code on the basis suggested in the complaint.
No further action required.