Case Study
January 2014

Behavioural Experiments to Test CO2 Car Labelling: Shaping Vehicle Labelling Standards in the EU

Client
European Commission (DG CLIMA)
Jointly with
London schools of economics (LSE)
Tech4i2
Open University of Catalunya (UOC)

Together with LSE, UOC, Tech4i2 and others, Expilab has co-delivered a project for the European Commission to improve consumer information and awareness about car ecological and CO2 labelling. The Expilab team has focused on co-design and execution of a set of online behavioural experiments across 10 EU countries involving 10,500+ participants. Behavioural experiments provided actionable insights for the design of effective consumer Eco CO2 labels capable of nudging citizens toward more sustainable transportation choices.

Objectives

Project aim was to evaluate how alternative car labels could improve information dissemination and raise awareness among potential car buyers concerning factors such as CO2 emissions, fuel efficiency, and vehicle running costs, thereby promoting more sustainable transportation choices. Expilab’s team was responsible for co-designing, programming and running behavioural experiments using Expilab’s platform for behavioural research.

Challenges

The project team has faced a number of methodological and research challenges including:

Designing alternative car labels by introducing new types of informational content and layouts (horizontal, vertical, different scales, colour schemes and more)

Testing a large number of alternative car labels adapted for displaying information for traditional cars, hybrids, and electric vehicles.

Creating a virtual online shop environment where participants could explore different car models along with information about CO2 emissions, fuel efficiency, and vehicle running costs.

Generation of graphically rich car labels and realistic promotional materials such as information banners to mimic materials typically used by automotive manufacturers.

Running data collection across different languages and meaningful localisation of treatments for 10 EU member-states.

Solution

To test alternative CO2 car labels and informational/promotional banners about CO2 emissions, project team has conducted a preliminary survey, 2 laboratory experiments at LSE’s behavioural lab, and 1 large pan-European online field experiment. The laboratory and field experiments were designed, programmed, and executed using Expilab’s digital research platform for behavioural research.

During behavioural experiments, 10.500+ participants from 10 EU countries were presented with different car models available for a virtual purchase. Presented cars were randomly sampled from a database of 500 vehicles along with information about CO2 emissions, fuel efficiency, and vehicle running costs. CO2 eco labels were dynamically generated and displayed along with car image and vehicle specifications. These eco labels included traditional vertical and horizontal eco labels as well as country-specific formats for German and UK vehicles (see below).

Examples of vertical and horizontal eco labels tested

Vertical eco-label
Horizontal eco-label
German, vertical eco-label

We also used mouse tracking as a decision process-tracing tool. This method involved tracking the movement of a computer mouse to observe how participants engaged with information during the decision-making process. Information was displayed in sections, with each section containing hidden data that became visible when the mouse hovered over it (see below). The tool recorded the duration for which each piece of information was viewed, the sequence of viewing, and the frequency of visits to each section. This helped us understand which attributes were most important to individuals in their decision-making.

Mouse tracking is enabled (portions of the screen are displayed when the mouse cursor is placed on top of it)

Eco label
Vehicle image
Behavioural nudges
Vehicle specifications
Results

Project Results

Developed and successfully tested a scalable experimental environment, suitable for evaluating energy efficiency and CO2 labeling for any type of vehicle.

Collected data from 500 laboratory participants and over 10,000 online participants across 10 EU member states.

Assessed the effectiveness of both current and new car labeling approaches, resulting in the development of policy recommendations.

Testing CO2/Car labelling options and consumer information

by Codagnone C., Bogliacino F. & Veltri G.
FINAL REPORT 2013.

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Behavioural Experiments to Test CO2 Car Labelling: Shaping Vehicle Labelling Standards in the EU

Together with LSE, UOC, Tech4i2 and others, Expilab has co-delivered a project for the European Commission to improve consumer information and awareness about car ecological and CO2 labelling. The Expilab team has focused on co-design and execution of a set of online behavioural experiments across 10 EU countries involving 10,500+ participants. Behavioural experiments provided actionable insights for the design of effective consumer Eco CO2 labels capable of nudging citizens toward more sustainable transportation choices.

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