The fuel economy of cars is improving and certain measures are important in helping consumers make the right decisions about choosing their next car. Since 2001, a fuel economy label has to be placed on, or near new cars in car showrooms, and this information also needs to be provided to consumers in other ways. TEPR has been involved with the evaluation of the implementation of these actions in the UK.  

Fuel economy labels help people make educated and informed choices on which vehicle they choose to buy. Providing information on the fuel efficiency and carbon dioxide emissions of a particular vehicle helps consumers who are interested in saving money and who are also concerned about the effect of their new car on the environment. Buyers can consequently select a car that has fewer emissions and is more fuel-efficient. In addition to the label, the information is also available in car brochures and on the internet, so that consumers are able to understand the fuel economy and environmental implications before they decide which new car to buy.

Fuel Consumption Label

The label includes information about:

  • How much carbon dioxide a car will release;
  • Its fuel economy in miles per gallon;
  • Estimated fuel costs for 12,000 miles;
  • Vehicle Excise Duty (VED or Car Tax) for 12 months

An example of the full label, as well as the annual fuel economy guide, can be found on the website of the Vehicle Certification Agency.

Carbon dioxide is one of the main greenhouse gases and therefore one of the gases responsible for climate change. Vehicle tax rates for new cars are dependent on carbon dioxide emissions and so the lower the emissions, the lower the tax.

Label History

The initial label from 2001 was not as informative as it might have been. It was based on the requirements specified in EU Directive 1999/94. The current label was launched by Alistair Darling, who was then the Secretary of State for Transport, at the LowCVP’s annual conference on 10 February 2005 at the Heritage Motor Centre at Gaydon in Warwickshire. Since then, dealerships throughout the UK have had to use the new labels, which are based on the labels that people see on fridges and washing machines.

The Chancellor announced in the March 2005 budget that VED bandings would be adjusted to be consistent with the new car labels and would be labelled A to F, with a band G being added a year later. Today, the number of bands has increased and ranges from A to M with A being the best and M the worst.

Used Car Labelling

Labels for used cars followed in August 2009 and allowed consumers to quickly see running costs, fuel consumption and environmental performance although the use of these labels is on a voluntary basis.

For More Information

TEPR (with the LowCVP) has evaluated the implementation of these labels, and the other ways of providing this information to consumers, for the Department for Transport and has made recommendations for future changes. This complements work that TEPR has previously undertaken on the implementation of similar labels across the EU. Please contact TEPR for further information on this and for other work that TEPR has carried out on the label.

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