First introduced in 2005, the Fuel Economy Label provides new car buyers with key information about a model’s vehicle tax, running costs and emissions. A similar label for used cars was introduced in 2009.
UK legislation requires that the Label is on display at the point of sale in showrooms and dealerships. With the advent of ultra-low emission vehicles, the legislation was further amended in 2013 which required additional information to be provided for cars and vans with zero tail-pipe emissions; notably plug-in hybrid, battery electric and hydrogen fuel vehicles.
The label is intended to be immediately familiar to consumers by using the well-known format as used by the colour-coded energy label that is now commonplace on consumer 'white goods', such as refrigerators and washing machines.
The colour-coded Fuel Economy Label is designed to provide model-specific information covering four interrelated issues: (1) Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per km; (2) Fuel costs over 12,000 miles; (3) Vehicle Excise Duty (annual 'road tax') and (4) Fuel consumption (fuel use per mile/km). Electric vehicles information also includes EV range and energy use (per mile/km).
Carbon dioxide (CO2) emission figures are measured over a single standard test-cycle and are quoted on a per kilometre basis. For a given fuel (petrol, diesel, LPG), carbon emissions are very closely related to fuel use – this means that a good fuel economy (low fuel use per km) equates with low CO2 emissions per km.
Fuel Costs are estimated for a distance of 12,000 miles. This is based on the 'combined' fuel economy figure (see below) and a UK average fuel price.
Vehicle Excise Duty (VED or 'road tax') bands are colour-coded from GREEN for cars in the lowest VED bracket (lowest CO2 emissions) through the colours of the spectrum to RED for the highest VED brackets (highest CO2 emissions). Annual rates are shown on the car label according to the new A to M banding system. The annual rates range from £0 for new cars with emissions below 100g/km to £505 for cars with CO2 emissions over 255g/km.
Fuel Consumption information is measured over three test-cycles: 'urban' (city driving), 'extra-urban' (motorway) and 'combined' (mixed) and is presented in 'mpg' (miles per gallon) and 'litres/100 km' units. Although the real-world fuel economy is likely to be lower than the figures quoted (around 20% lower on average), the figures are a very good way for comparing different cars.
Battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle labels include additional information and follow a slightly different calculation method. Battery electric vehicles adopt the same calculation as traditionally fuelled models using an average electricity price. In both cases, electricity consumption (miles/kWh) and electric range (miles) are calculated.
For plug-in hybrid vehicles, CO2 emissions and fuel consumption are measured in two conditions, one with the battery freshly charged and another where it is significantly depleted. It is expressed as 'weighted, combined'; a weighted average of the two figures obtained on the combined cycle, based on an assumption that the vehicle is driven 16 miles beyond its maximum electric range, using the engine as required without recharging.