A new label to help people choose the best and cleanest car models

CO2 emissions of cars must be curbed to combat the climate crisis. Having the most efficient cars on our roads can help. For this people must have enough information about emissions and fuel consumption when they choose their car. The EU car label that is supposed to give this information is woefully insufficient. Consumer groups now present their view on how to improve it. 

The EU energy label, classified on an A to G to scale. A new EU car label should be structured the same way.
Cars and vans are responsible for the largest part of transport's rising emissions. One way to curb these emissions is by having alternatives to car use. Yet we must recognise that not everyone will be able to take the bus or cycle.

Having access to accurate information about fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and fiscal incentives can help those consumers who rely on their car make the most affordable and sustainable choice.

But the current EU car label fails in this: It is so open to interpretation by EU member states that the label is often not comparable between car models, car dealers or countries. And the 1999 EU law1 that created the label does not take into account today’s market where people make many decisions online, increasingly buy second-hand vehicles and shift to electric cars.

Reform the label to give trustworthy information to consumers about cars

To reform the car label, European consumer groups recommend the following:

  • Give the same type of information to all consumers across Europe. A vehicle’s absolute CO2 emissions must be stated and classified on an A to G scale. Its design should therefore be similar to the EU’s energy label which is structured the same way (see picture).
  • Adapt the label for electric cars. It must indicate the real driving range, maximum charging speed and average charging time.
  • Make the label mandatory for all advertisement, online and offline. This includes online vehicle configurators.  
  • Allow comparison: Set the label’s design and criteria at the EU level by transforming the current car labelling ‘directive’ into a ‘regulation’, which gives less leeway to make changes at national level. It should still be adapted to national circumstances (for units of measurement and information on applicable tax policy).

Read consumer groups’ recommendations in full: A new label to help people choose the best and cleanest car models, today and tomorrow

1 Directive 1999/94/EC on car labelling.