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The New Scarlet Letter


UK Transport Secretary Alistair Darling unveiled a set of new color-coded labels that highlight the fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of every new car on sale in the country.

All 42 car brands in the UK have signed up to the introduction of the voluntary labeling scheme, and the label is due to be in all UK car showrooms by 1 September. A sample label is to the right.

As well as highlighting the fuel efficiency of every new car on sale, the labels also contain information on how much motorists can expect to pay in fuel bills in a typical year for a particular car, and whether the car qualifies for a reduction in Vehicle Excise Duty.

The labeling scheme had been under evaluation for some time. The new label is the result of a voluntary agreement by car makers following discussions with environment groups and other road transport stakeholders under the auspices of the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP).

This shows the UK Government’s commitment to tackling climate change. It shows what can be done when Government, industry and other stakeholders work in partnership to achieve shared goals. The labels will send a clear message to motorists that they can make a real difference by choosing clean, fuel-efficient cars.

—Transport Secretary Alistair Darling

The scheme uses six tiers, each assigned a specific color and letter grade. Cars emitting less than 100 grams of CO2 per kilometer receive a “A” and a dark green label.  The worst emitters, vehicles that produce more than 186 grams per km, receive a red label and an “F”—the new Scarlet Letter.


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