New fuel labels – European standards at work!  

A change is on the way for European drivers. On 12 October, new labels will be introduced to clearly indicate the different typologies of fuel for motor vehicles. These new signs, established by CEN to help the implementation of EU Directive 2014/94/EU, aim to harmonize the way information on fuels is provided across the Single Market. They represent an excellent case study on how standards have a positive impact on daily life and how they contribute to implementing legislation.

New harmonised labels

On 12 October across Europe, new harmonized symbols will appear in gas stations. The identifiers will be displayed at dispensers and refuelling points, on vehicles placed on the market for the first time, in motor vehicle dealerships and in consumer manuals. The application of the symbols for vehicles already in circulation is not expected.

According to the new labelling, a geometrical figure accompanied by a letter and a number is from now on associated to each type of fuel: gasoline will be represented by a circle with E5, E10 or E85 inside (which is linked to the content of biofuel); diesel is indicated by a square with ,for instance, B7, B10 or XTL; and the different gaseous fuels will be signalled by a diamond containing H2 for hydrogen, CNG for compressed natural gas, LPG for liquefied petroleum gas and LNG for liquefied natural gas.

For information purposes, you can find a list of the labels on the CEN website. However, please note that their exact visualization could vary slightly from Member State to Member State.

Standards support the implementation of European legislation

The new labels have been defined by EN 16942:2016 'Fuels - Identification of vehicle compatibility - Graphical expression for consumer information’, which was published by CEN in 2016. The standard was developed by the CEN Technical Committee 441 ‘Fuel labelling’, whose Secretariat is held by the Dutch Standardization Institute (NEN), in cooperation with Commission services and societal stakeholders, and is based on a broad consensus, aiming to ensure the easiest possible use by the highest number of people.

The purpose of the standard is to lay down harmonized identifiers for marketed liquid and gaseous fuels due to their increasing number and complexity. It sets requirements to complement information needs of users regarding vehicles that are placed on the market.

Standard EN 16942 is based on a request from the European Commission in 2015 in order to implement Directive 2014/94/EU "on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure". In particular, it meets the requirements set in  article 7, which requires Member States to ensure that relevant, consistent and clear information is provided to consumers on the compatibility of their vehicles with the fuels placed on the market.

Like all harmonized standards, EN 16942 supports the implementation of European legislation by providing technical specifications. However, the rules on implementation and monitoring of the legislation remain fully in the hands of the European Commission. More information on how this standard helps the implementation of the EU Directive is available on our website.

The next step: electric cars

European standardization is open to evolutions in the market. For this reason, another CEN Technical Committee, CEN/TC 301 ‘Road Vehicles’, is currently working on a standard dedicated to establishing labels for electric vehicle power supplies: EN 17186:2019 'Identification of vehicles and infrastructures compatibility - Graphical expression for consumer information on EV power supply’. The new standard is expected to be made available in early February 2019.

Like EN 16942, the new European Standard will lay down harmonized identifiers. It supports the effective implementation of Article 7 of Directive 2014/94/EU by EU Member States. Based on the same approach of EN 16942:2016 the labels will look like this:

The deployment of the new labels on new electrical vehicles and on power supply stations for electrical vehicles in the Single Market should be completed by February 2021.

For more information, please contact Andrea Nam, Thierry Legrand or Ortwin Costenoble