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Clean Air Asia and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) jointly organized an event this June aimed at accelerating the development of ambitious fuel economy measures through a knowledge exchange on successful policies and initiatives.

The event, entitled “Supporting the Asia Pacific on Vehicle Fuel Economy Labeling and Energy Efficiency Policies” is the second of the series of online forums that is supported by the Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI), the FIA Foundation, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and the European Commission, following the webinar on fuel economy baseline development held on March 30.

“Now we have learned where we are at in terms of the vehicle fleets that are entering the market, we will look at the policies that will support the improvement of vehicle fuel economy”, Glynda Bathan-Baterina, Deputy Executive Director of Clean Air Asia said in her welcome statement.

Vehicle labeling program

Policies that focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption in the transport sector are crucial in the decarbonization efforts of a country. For Zifei Yang (International Council on Clean Transportation), “the vehicle labeling program is one of the information measures that educate and encourage consumers to purchase more efficient vehicles by disclosing relevant information.”

She further explained that labels target consumer concerns by providing technical information, and along with the attractiveness of vehicles, may be critical for the purchase decision for private car owners. Yang also noted that labeling programs also enable other policies that play a stronger role that improve the vehicle efficiency such as standards and regulations and other “fiscal measures that encourage the purchase of low emitting vehicles through fuel and vehicle taxes.”

The program focused on the policy development that is underpinned by the development of vehicle fuel economy labeling programs. “These policies are important steppingstones as we transition to low emission vehicles and electric mobility”, Kathleen Dematera-Contreras, Sustainable Transport Lead of Clean Air Asia said. For southeast Asian countries, the regional aspiration of fuel economy of new light duty vehicles (LDVs)sold is 5.3 Lge/100 km by 2025. A roadmap for the ASEAN region designed to achieve this aspiration includes the vehicle fuel economy labeling program that is worth pursuing.

Sharing of experiences

The country sharing session also discussed the experiences of Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and New Zealand in the development of their labeling programs and energy efficiency policies.

Ms. Nur Farhana Helme of the Malaysia Automotive, Robotics, and IoT Institute (MARII) shared their voluntary energy efficient vehicle (EEV) labeling scheme in Malaysia. In their labeling scheme, manufacturers purchase the vehicle labels that are placed inside or outside of vehicles at the rear windscreen. Their vehicle labeling scheme aims to “raise public awareness on fuel economy to accelerate the uptake of low emission vehicles and create a sustainable society”, says Hana. Under their scheme, manufacturers that apply for a label receive a certificate of approval and a trophy.

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On the other hand, Vietnam started their fuel economy labeling scheme in 2014, which targeted passenger cars. Since then, they have expanded their labeling program to motorcycles and mopeds (2018) and soon, externally charged hybrid and pure electric vehicles (2022), according to Mr. Nguyen Dong Phong, Director of the National Motor Vehicle Emission Test Center, Vietnam Register.

In Thailand, the energy efficiency policies for vehicles started all the way back in 2012 when the basis of excise tax for cars shifted from engine capacity to CO2 emissions. Dr. Nuwong Chollacoop explains that their fuel economy label is linked to these excise tax schemes. Furthermore, just as in other countries, Thailand’s fuel economy label features a QR code where consumers can find additional information on a website including the fuel economy and CO2 emissions of different vehicles and ranking of efficient cars. Thailand is also adopting its fuel economy labels to include electric vehicles where they use Watts/km instead of the usual fuel consumption.

Mr. Terry Collins shared the history of New Zealand labeling scheme which started 15 years ago and features a color scheme and star ratings. Mr. Collins also shared how different energy efficiency policies are underpinned by their vehicle labeling scheme. Policies like the Clean Car Discount for example, give subsidies or rebates and impose fees or penalties depending on the CO2 emissions that a consumer purchases.

The Clean Car Standards policy requires car manufacturers to bring in New Zealand the right balance of high and low emitting vehicles. Manufacturers are penalized when their imports are above their targeted fleet average emissions. These systems “reward consumers for purchasing really efficient vehicles and create a push for manufacturers to meet vehicle standards”, says Mr. Collins in his presentation. The success of implementing these policies heavily relies on their vehicle labeling scheme because they have the historical information of their vehicle fleet.

Clean Air Asia is a regional partner of the Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI) in Asia. As part of their regional work at the ASEAN region, Clean Air Asia is planning webinars on energy efficiency policies such as fuel economy labeling and electric vehicle manufacturing in Southeast Asia.