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FAQ's - Fuel Consumption

Where can I find information on fuel consumption and CO2 figures?

  • For information on cars registered before July 2000, consult the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders' (SMMT) website at  (links to another site).
  • These sources have information for passenger cars. CO2 data for other categories of vehicle may be available from the manufacturer.

My vehicle does not produce the same fuel consumption figures as shown in the 'New Car Fuel Consumption and Emission Figures' publication and/or the Internet site? 

  • Because of the need to maintain strict comparability of results achieved by the standard tests they cannot be fully representative of real-life driving conditions. Firstly, it is not practicable to test each individual new car; thus only one production car is tested as being representative of the model and may therefore produce a better or worse result than another similar vehicle. Secondly, there are infinite variations in driving styles and in road, car and weather conditions, all of which can have a bearing on the results achieved. For these reasons the consumption achieved on the road will not necessarily accord with the official test results.

I appreciate that the official fuel consumption figures are obtained under controlled test conditions and as such may not be fully representative of real-life driving conditions. However, I am concerned that the figures achieved by my vehicle are radically different to the official figures? 

How is the fuel consumption test conducted? 

  • The test is outlined in Directive 93/116/EC as amended by Regulation (EC) 692/2008, and provides results that are more than representative of actual average on-road fuel consumption than previous tests. There are two parts: an urban and an extra-urban cycle. The cars tested have to be run-in and must have been driven for at least 1,800 miles (3,000 kilometres) before testing.
  • Urban Cycle
    The urban test cycle is carried out in a laboratory at an ambient temperature of 20oC to 30oC on a rolling road from a cold start, i.e. the engine has not run for several hours. The cycle consists of a series of accelerations, steady speeds, decelerating and idling. Maximum speed is 31mph (50km/h), average speed 12mph (19km/h) and the distance covered is 2.5 miles (4km).
  • Extra-Urban Cycle
    This cycle is conducted immediately following the urban cycle and consists of roughly half steady-speed driving and the remainder accelerations, decelerations, and some idling. Maximum speed is 75mph (120km/h), average speed is 39mph (63 km/h) and the distance covered is 4.3miles (7km). 
  • Combined Fuel Consumption Figure
    The combined figure presented is for the urban and extra-urban cycle together. It is therefore an average of the two parts of the test, weighted by the distances covered in each part.

When purchasing a new car what information regarding fuel consumption can I expect to find at the point of sale?

  • The results of the standard tests have to be shown on labels fixed on or near every new car on display in showrooms and on forecourts, and dealers must have fuel consumption figures of all new cars available for prospective car buyers to consult on request. These requirements do not apply in the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Where can I find more detailed information about vehicle tax?

  • From March 2001 the vehicle's CO2 figure has been used as the basis for applying vehicle tax rates for new passenger cars. Information on the can be found on the Gov UK web site at the following address (links to another site)):
  • A leaflet 'Brand new car? The less it pollutes, the less you pay, (INF96)' should be available at most motor dealers or is available from the DVLA on the free phone number 0845 6052222.
  • A vehicle tax calculator is available on our web site at

Where can I find more detailed information on the new Company Car Tax arrangements?

  • From April 2002, the benefit-in-kind tax for company cars will be based on the CO2 emissions of the vehicle. This will apply to all cars registered from January 1998 onwards. For cars registered from March 2001, the CO2 figure of the vehicle will be shown on the car's V5 Registration Document. 
    A summary of the new system 'Employers Bulletin - issue 5' or comprehensive details of the reform 'Expenses & benefits - A tax guide, booklet 180(2001), Appendix 1A' can be obtained by calling the Employer's order line on 0845 7646646, or by downloading them from to another site).
    Further information can be found by calling the Employer's Helpline on 0845 7143143 or on the Inland Revenue website on (links to another site).