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Consumers and auto makers work towards cleaner air: if you can't walk ... or take public transit, you are now a few steps closer to being able to choose an energy efficient vehicle and cleaner fuel.

Auto Makers Encourage Motorists to Buy Clean Fuel

Canada's leading auto makers have announced a new fuel endorsement program designed to encourage gasoline retailers to sell fuels specially formulated to meet the needs of today's cars and trucks -- and the Canadian environment.

Any gasoline retailer will be able to obtain a license (for $1) to use the Auto Makers' Choice logo and designation on any pumps which sell fuel that meets strict specifications, including lower sulphur, positive combustion chamber deposit controls, no heavy metal additives, and enhanced drive-ability characteristics.

Sponsors for the Auto Makers' Choice program include Ford Motor Company of Canada, Limited, General Motors of Canada Limited, DaimlerChrysler Canada Inc., Jaguar Canada, Mazda Canada Inc., Saturn Canada, Saab Canada and Volvo Cars of Canada Ltd. Some auto manufacturers -- including Toyota and Honda -- didn't participate in the October 14 announcement and weren't available for comment regarding their reasons.

The Auto Makers' Choice fuel specifications build upon existing Canadian General Standards Board guidelines and the World Wide Fuel Charter, which all auto makers globally have participated in developing and promoting.

"All vehicle manufacturers have made tremendous strides in improving vehicle emission control technology, with emissions from our cars and trucks reduced by up to 99 percent from uncontrolled levels," says Bobbie Gaunt, president and chief executive officer of Ford Motor Company of Canada, Limited. "But cleaner cars need cleaner fuels to operate properly and obtain maximum emissions reductions. We hope that Canada's oil companies will want to work with us to make the necessary cleaner fuel available to help Canadian consumers and our environment."

"Improved fuel formulations will provide Canadians with cleaner air sooner and help our vehicles to operate as designed," says Maureen Kempston Darkes, president and general manager of General Motors of Canada Limited. "In fact, if all vehicles on the road in Canada today could access Auto Makers' Choice gasoline, it would be the equivalent of eliminating the smog-causing emissions from almost two million cars and light trucks."

The impact of the initiative, at least in the short term, will be governed by how many oil companies and retailers offer clean fuels in major markets like Ontario. Irving Oil was identified by the auto makers as one retailer that offers gasoline with low sulphur levels and fewer additives. Although it doesn't have a presence in Ontario or the west, Irving is a major player in the Atlantic provinces.

In reaction to the industry announcement, Beatrice Olivastri, CEO of Friends of the Earth, says, "We congratulate the auto manufacturers for taking this step: it's good for their customers, it's especially good for people who have to breathe polluted air, and it's good for the environment. Friends of the Earth prefers that people walk, cycle or take public transit whenever possible. But if you must drive, now you can make a choice for cleaner gas and cleaner air."

Olivastri adds, "Today's announcement is a demonstration that responsible action by corporate leaders can be good both for the environment and the bottom line. This industry partnership is moving Canada farther and faster than the government, thus far, has been willing to go."

Ottawa announced last fall that it would introduce regulations to significantly lower the allowable level of sulphur in gasoline in Canada. A phase-in period for the cuts would start in 2002. FoE believes that the government's belated decision to force refiners to clean up their act was too slow and has been looking at ways to speed up getting cleaner fuel into the marketplace.

Friends of the Earth and Environment Canada are currently resisting a court action brought by refiners to prevent release of information on sulphur levels in gas. Sulphur content in Canadian fuel is substantially higher than in some other countries, including the United States. The oil companies claim that the cost of upgrades to refining processes to cut sulphur levels is prohibitive.
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Publication:Natural Life
Date:Nov 1, 1999
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