ACCC takes action against GM Holden Ltd over Saab 'green' claims

18 January 2008

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has instituted legal proceedings against GM Holden Ltd, which supplies and markets Saab motor vehicles in Australia and trades as Saab Australia, alleging misleading and deceptive conduct and false representations concerning 'green' claims made in the advertising of Saab vehicles.

In a number of Saab is Green newspaper and magazine advertisements in July and August 2007, Saab made various statements including, Grrrrrreen, Every Saab is green, Carbon emissions neutral across the entire Saab range and Switch to carbon neutral motoring to promote the green credentials of its motor vehicles.  The advertisements also contained a statement that, in addition, Saab would plant 17 native trees in the first year following a Saab vehicle purchase as a carbon offset.

The ACCC considers that the advertisements represented to consumers that:

  • the net amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by any Saab vehicle, over the life of that vehicle, would be zero
  • planting 17 native trees on behalf of the purchaser of a Saab vehicle would offset the carbon dioxide emissions for the life of the vehicle, and
  • Saab vehicles have some attribute or attributes which contribute to reduced carbon dioxide emissions by those vehicles compared with Saab vehicles supplied prior to the publication of the advertisement.

The ACCC alleges that the Saab is Green advertisements were misleading and that Saab has breached sections 52 and 53(c) of the Trade Practices Act 1974 because:

  • there would, in fact, be a net release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by the operation of any motor vehicle in the Saab range
  • planting 17 native trees would not provide a carbon dioxide offset for any period other than a single year’s operation of any motor vehicle in the Saab range, and
  • Saab vehicles do not have any attribute or attributes which contribute to reduced carbon dioxide emissions by those vehicles compared with Saab vehicles supplied prior to the publication of the advertisement.

The ACCC is seeking:

  • declarations that Saab has breached ss52 and 53(c) of the Trade Practices Act
  • injunctions restraining it from similar conduct in the future
  • corrective notices
  • a review of GM Holden Ltd's trade practices compliance program, and
  • costs.

A directions hearing has been set for 9 a.m. on 6 February 2008 in the Federal Court, Perth before Justice French.

Release number: 
MR 008/08
ACCC Infocentre: 

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