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Clearer fuel pump labels appear across Europe

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Clearer fuel pump labels appear across Europe

Photo © il-fede - Fotolia

(BRUSSELS) - A new harmonised set of fuel labels took off across Europe on 12 October, with the aim of giving drivers better information on the suitability of fuels for their vehicles wherever they travel in the EU.

The initiative is part of European efforts to encourage use of alternative fuels to help reduce Europe's air quality problems, much of which are caused by transport emissions. With a growing diversity of fuels available on the European market, the EU Commission believes that drivers, businesses and fuel station operators need clearer information on fuels sold at filling stations.

From now on, when customers arrive at a public filling station of any Member State, they will notice new EU-wide harmonized fuel symbols on fuel dispensers and fuel nozzles. The same harmonised, easy-to-read, clear and simple labels will also be compulsory for newly produced vehicles and will be shown on the fuel-filler caps.

These new labels do not replace existing names and brands of fuels, nor quality, safety, and performance recommendations. The labels are based on industry standards and have been developed by European standardisation bodies with the participation of industry, consumer and civic society representatives.

The new labels are divided in to three groups:

  •    Gasoline-type fuels: marked by an "E" inside a circle: E5, E10, etc ("E" stands for specific bio-components (ethanol) present in petrol);

Gasoline-type fuels

Copyright and Source European Committee for Standardization

  •    Diesel-type fuels: marked by a "B" inside a square: B7, B10, XTL, etc ("B" stands for specific biodiesel components present in diesel, the XTL stands for synthetic diesel and indicates that it is not derived from crude oil);

Diesel-type fuels

Copyright and Source European Committee for Standardization

  •    Gaseous-type fuels, mentioning their specific subtype within a rhombus/diamond: e.g. CNG, LNG, LPG and H2 (hydrogen);

Gaseous-type fuels

Copyright and Source European Committee for Standardization

In the case of newer vehicles, the labels will also be visible in the owner's manual and they may also appear in the electronic handbook available via a vehicle's infotainment center. Besides being visible in all public refuelling stations, they should also be visible at vehicle dealerships. The new labels will be deployed in all 28 European Union member states, EEA countries (Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway), and also Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Switzerland and Turkey.

Part of moves to encourage take-up of alternative fuel solutions, Directive 2014/94/EU on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure was adopted in 2014 with the aim of facilitating the development of a single market for alternative fuels for transport in Europe.

The Directive also called for a way for setting up appropriate consumer information on fuels, including a clear and sound indication of the compatibility between different fuels and cars. The call for better consumer information arose from the multiplicity of fuel choices becoming available on the market, in particular with the roll-out of new alternative fuels.

In view of this increasing choice of fuels facing consumers, the Directive mandated the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) to come up with industry-wide standards that would improve existing information. CEN adopted on 12 October 2016 standard EN 16942, "Fuels-Identification of vehicle compatibility-Graphical expression for consumer information", which enters into force 2 years later, on 12 October 2018. A new standard "EN 17186:2019" laying down harmonized identifiers for power supply for electric road vehicles is expected to be adopted early 2019.

In May 2018, the Commission also adopted an Implementing Regulation on Fuel Price Comparison which establishes a common methodology to facilitate the comparison of prices of the different fuels in a common unit (euro/ national currency) taking into account the energy content of the fuel and the energy efficiency of the vehicle.

New EU fuel marking - background guide

Directive 2014/94/EU

Action plan on Alternative Fuels Infrastructure

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