The grey area of green branding

Published: 20 September 2007

Car makers are leading us on a merry dance with burgeoning eco brands, says Tim Pollard

Don't know about you, but I'm bamboozled by the manufacturers' attempts to save the planet. Watching their technological progress is great fun. Hybrids here! Thin tyres there! But what really confuses is the complicated eco branding going on. It's marketing drivel at its most opaque.

Ford recently announced its Econetic badge that will adorn its cleanest cars, while Renault hit back with its new Eco2 tag. Meanwhile over in Germany Volkswagens continue with their Bluemotion name (blue? I thought a 102g/km Polo was green?), and sister brand Seat is pinching the same tech masquerading under the Ecomotive brand.

Talk about confusing. It's becoming clear that every brand is finally cottoning on to the importance of environmental matters and 2007 will be the year that they finally crossed the line from being Worthy-But-Fringey to being Relevant. But why, oh why the divergent names?

I know the answer. Marketing suits back in HQ want their brand to have the edge, but I reckon they'd be better off with a policed industry-wide standard. How about a sliding scale of greenness that could be used depending upon emissions? Anything with less than 120g/km could be labelled Emerald, while those emitting less than 100g/km would qualify for the Lime badge. Only those saintly cars beating the 80g/km mark could wear the Green badge.

Forget the confusing nomenclature that's cropping up in every showroom. What we need is simple, no-nonsense labels so motorists know what's what. As it is, I can't see the wood for all the tree-hugging going on.

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet