From 1 December 2011 all new cars in Germany must be labeled with an energy efficiency label, issued by the Deutsche Energie-Agentur GmbH (dena) – the German Energy Agency. Similar to those used for household appliances such as washing machines, the ‘Eco-label’ will vehicle costs and emissions at a glance. The label exemplifies the benefits of natural gas vehicles (NGVs); no matter whether small car, family van, station wagon or sedan – they are all green in the CO2-efficiency classes classified.
The colour scale gives information about the carbon efficiency of passenger cars, the label shows a scale with colored arrows indicating CO2 efficiency classes. The classification ranges from A (green, very efficient) to G (red, little efficiently). The black arrow shows the respective car belongs to which efficiency class. The efficiency class specifies whether a vehicle emits much or little CO2 in relation to its weight. The label facilitates comparisons with other vehicles by the consumer.
“Now it’s official that natural gas is green,” says Dr. Timm Kehler, manager of erdgas mobil GmbH. “Almost all natural gas vehicle models were classified into categories A and B as highly efficient and thus get a green label. They are significantly better than the majority of new car offerings. The label is unfortunately only calculated for vehicle mass and CO2 emissions calculated. Would factors such as the fine dust and nitrogen oxide emissions be included, the lead would be even better.”
“Also, we would have welcomed it if – as in Switzerland – the CO2 calculation would have taken into account savings from the admixture of renewable biogas (biomethane),” Kehler added.
In particular, the comparison with similar petrol engines displays the clear advantage of natural gas vehicles: while the VW Passat 1.4 TSI EcoFuel has been marked with an A, the VW Passat 1.4 TSI, even with the fuel-saving Bluemotion technology, is only classified as C.
The new label not only provides information about the environmental friendliness, but also on the operating and fuel costs. Using the Passat as an example again, the natural gas version performed significantly better than the gasoline version. The TSI EcoFuel incurs an annual vehicle tax of EUR 28 (USD 37) instead of EUR 64 (USD 86). The annual vehicle tax depends on CO2 emissions; the exact euro amount payable to the tax office is on the car label.
Fuel costs are much lower: driving 20,000 kilometers will cost the consumer EUR 873 (USD 1175) for the alternative drive and EUR 1903 (USD 2561) for the gasoline model, based on average fuel prices.
Comparison is good to against diesel vehicles. Co2 performance is similar but again natural gas vehicles display significant advantage with reduced fuel costs.
“Natural gas is now the cheapest fuel. This benefit is for the consumer, however, obscured by the statutory pricing, because natural gas must be received at the gas station in kilograms and is therefore not directly comparable to the price boom, with other fuels represented in liters. Therefore, it is good that the new label finally brings more transparency into the actual operating costs,” Kehler concluded.
(This article primarily compiled using information from an erdgas-mobil GmbH press release)