The European Commission is currently evaluating Directive 1999/94/EC, which requires EU Member States to ensure that consumers are informed about the fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of new passenger cars. In support of the evaluation, the authors assess the status of car labeling in the EU.

They find 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. The fuel consumption data displayed to consumers underrate yearly fuel costs in the order of several hundred euro per car.

The authors argue that car labeling 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, (ii) data and classification metrics that accurately reflect the fuel consumption and CO2 emissions observed by consumers, and (iii) a labeling scale that allows differentiation between efficient hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles. By following these recommendations, the European car labeling can receive wider recognition and foster well-informed consumer choices.

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