Last week the European Commission announced adoption of a new harmonised set of fuel labels. The objective behind their introduction is, as usual, to provide consumers with better information. This time we are supposed to be better informed about the suitability of fuels for our vehicles. Whilst the harmonisation aspect of fuel labelling seems important considering the increase in cross-border travel and in consumers tanking their vehicles abroad, the standardised labels don't seem particularly informative to me (disclaimer though: I don't own the car, so maybe I'm not as informed in this area as I should be to begin with as I drive only occasionally).
My issue lies with the design of the labels that will be used. The Commission claims that they will be easily distinguished as: gasoline will be marked with an E inside a circle; diesel with a B inside a square; and gas with a rhombus shaped label... Why hasn't this been simplified further? For example, by labelling gasoline-type fuels with a G instead of an E; diesel with a D instead of a B; or using colours instead of/ or next to shapes on fuel labels? I would think that this would have made a selection of the appropriate fuel for the consumer's vehicle even easier at a glance. Further complication lies in the fact that, as is common practice in labelling policies, other information may be placed on the refuelling pumps aside the fuel identifiers, which may further hinder the transparency of this information.
This new fuel labelling system has been developed by European standardisation bodies (CEN), apparently with the input acquired from the industry, consumer and civic society representatives (New EU fuel marking Q&A). I wonder whether they conducted any consumer surveys as to the effectiveness of these labels in conveying information to consumers. Let's hope that there will at least be some education plan developed to draw consumers' attention to these new labels and differences between them.