Energy consumption labelling for passenger cars


The Ordinance on Energy Consumption Labelling for Passenger Cars (in German), which entered into force on 1 December 2011 (Federal Law Gazette I p.1756), requires cars to be equipped with a label (in German) (PDF, 399 KB) informing consumers about a vehicle’s CO2 efficiency. The label not only indicates the vehicle’s energy consumption in absolute terms, but also provides information about its CO2 efficiency compared with other vehicles by ranking it on a colour-coded scale. CO2 efficiency is calculated using CO2 emissions and vehicle mass. The scale ranges from 'A+' (very efficient) to 'G' (rather inefficient).

The label also allows for information about electricity consumption to be included so as to take account of developments in the area of electric mobility.

The calculation of a vehicle's CO2 emissions is based on a particular driving cycle (the New European Driving Cycle or NEDC). The change from the NEDC to the WLTP (Worldwide Harmonized Light Duty Test Procedure) has made it necessary for the Ordinance on Energy Consumption Labelling for Passenger Cars to be revised.

Extensive information on running costs

The label also details annual taxes and average annual energy costs (fuel and electricity) so consumers can consider the total cost of ownership as they decide which vehicle to buy.

Annual energy costs (fuel and electricity) are calculated using the fuel price list (last updated on 29 June 2018) (in German) (PDF, 42 KB), which is published annually in the Federal Gazette by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

Once the updated prices have been published in the Federal Gazette – which happens on 30 June of each year – they need to be used for all new passenger cars displayed or put up for sale or lease after (and including) 1 July of that year, subject to a three-month grace period after the publication date. More comparative data on the fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and electricity consumption of newly registered vehicles is available in the latest DAT Guide (in German) issued by Deutsche Automobil Treuhand GmbH.

In addition, the CO2 efficiency categories (in German) (PDF, 38 KB) that are used to rank the new vehicles were published in the Federal Gazette on 28 June 2019 (reference year: 2017). The Federal Government reviewed whether it was required to add an 'A++' efficiency category. Under the Ordinance on Energy Consumption Labelling for Passenger Cars, a new efficiency category needs to be added if 5% of newly registered vehicles meet the requirements of the next higher categories – 'A++' and/or ‘A+++’. However, only 3% of newly registered vehicles exceeded class 'A+' standards in 2018, which means that the current efficiency scale will remain unchanged.

Information portal on the energy label for cars

Deutsche Energie-Agentur GmbH (dena) provides persons interested in buying a new car, car dealers and fleet operators with information (in German) on energy consumption labelling for cars on its (in German) website. On this website, dena also indicates to consumers which vehicles rank highest in terms of their energy and CO2 efficiency in a particular segment or fuel category. In addition to this, car manufacturers and dealers can find a manual helping them fill in the energy labels and additional information about the label (in German).

In order to foster the energy transition in the transport sector, the website entitled “Alternative Antriebe” (alternative propulsion) offers plenty of information and advice (in German). In addition to the technical aspects, such as range, information is also provided about the state of the infrastructure, costs and available funding. An interactive tool takes consumers to a page which compares alternative propulsion with conventional options like internal combustion and diesel engines.

A maintenance cost comparison tool (only in German) makes it possible for consumers to compare the running costs of a car they are interested in with highly efficient car models from the A+, A and B categories. The tool displays data on a car’s fuel or electricity consumption, on taxes and CO2 emissions over a specific period of time and therefore allows the costs for this car to be directly compared to that of another, more environmentally friendly model.

By using the Which car best suits my needs? online tool (in German), users can check whether a car they are interested in actually suits their individual needs and driving behaviour (by looking at parameters such as equipment, kilometres travelled per year etc.). The tool lists advantages and disadvantages and alternative drives, indicating which car best suits a user’s needs. The new car information tool (in German) also helps consumers select the right car. As new cars are usually driven over a period of several years, a small difference in the efficiency category can make a huge difference in energy consumption and save users thousands of euros. Furthermore, a more efficient car helps protect the climate.

The section Cars & Climate (in German) provides information and news, including on new development in the area of electric mobility, autonomous driving and the transition from the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) to the Worldwide Harmonized Light Duty Test Procedure (WLTP).

The information platform on the energy label for cars has been initiated and is run by dena and receives funding from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.