Fuel Economy Labeling Getting Overhaul

With advances in alternative forms of fuel sources for automobiles such as electric vehicles getting set to roll into more Americans’ homes, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) have decided it is time to overhaul the fuel economy labels consumers see on the window of every new vehicle in dealer showrooms. The two agencies are seeking public input on a number of possible label designs and related issues, which would be addressed in time for new vehicles beginning with 2012 models

The goal of the new labeling system, according to the EPA, is to provide consumers with “simple, straightforward energy and environmental comparisons across all types of vehicles, including electric vehicles (EV), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), and conventional gasoline-powered vehicles.” These new labels will provide as well “enhanced information on efficiency and environmental performance – including information about air pollutants, such as smog, that impact public health.”

EPA Fuel Labels

image via EPA

Two new label designs are being considered, with one making use of a letter grade to communicate the vehicle’s overall fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions performance. It would also provide consumers with an estimate of the expected fuel cost savings over five years compared to an average gasoline-powered vehicle of the same model year. The other label design “retains the current label’s focus on miles per gallon (MPG) and annual fuel costs, while updating the overall design and adding the required new comparison information on fuel economy and emissions.”

Both labels would also provide “new information on fuel consumption, tailpipe carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and smog-related emissions. The new labels would provide information on a new web-based interactive tool that can also be accessed by smart phone. This tool would allow consumers to personalize the information about a vehicle’s performance.”

For electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, additional information would show energy use by translating electricity consumption into miles per gallon equivalent. The proposed label designs for EVs also include energy use expressed in terms of kilowatt-hours per 100 miles. “New technologies such as battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids are entering the American market in greater numbers,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a statement. “We need to provide consumers with labels that include fuel economy and environmental information so that buyers can make better informed decisions when purchasing new vehicles.”

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I am the editor-in-chief and founder for EarthTechling. This site is my desire to bring the world of green technology to consumers in a timely and informative matter. Prior to this my previous ventures have included a strong freelance writing career and time spent at Silicon Valley start ups.