EU Science Hub

Uniform approach to car energy labelling would help consumer choice

Sep 06 2016

Car labelling can become more effective if EU Member States adopt a harmonised classification of cars that mirrors the design of the EU energy label and that accurately reflects the fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of cars under real-world driving conditions, according to a paper authored by JRC researchers.

The paper provides an analysis of Directive 1999/94/EC, which requires Member States to inform consumers about the fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of new passenger cars. The exercise found that all EU Member States have formally implemented national car labelling schemes. However, relevant information is not presented to consumers in a uniform manner.

Only 13 Member States have implemented graphic labels that differ in their design, metrics, and classification of vehicles. Also, the fuel consumption displayed to consumers underrates yearly fuel costs in the order of several hundred euro per car. The assessment suggests that the inclusion of additional utility parameters such as vehicle mass or footprint can cause substantial discrepancies in the classification of cars between Member States.

According to the authors, car labelling can be made more effective if Member States adopt: (i) a uniform label that mirrors, as far as feasible, the design of the EU energy label already applied to domestic appliances; (ii) data and classification metrics that accurately reflect the fuel consumption and CO2 emissions observed by consumers; and (iii) an expanded labelling scale that covers zero CO2 emissions and would allow differentiation between efficient hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles.