Fuel Economy Labeling System Gets Overhaul

Back at the end of last August the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced plans to overhaul the fuel economy labels consumers see on the window of every new vehicle in dealer showrooms to reflect (1) more easy to understand information and (2) efficiencies around electric vehicles and hybrids. The day has now come where these labels are official, according to a joint announcement from the EPA and DOT.

The new labeling system, like the example seen below, reportedly “will help consumers take advantage of the increased efficiency standards achieved under the Obama Administration that will save families money at the pump starting this year.” Said to be the most dramatic overhaul of fuel economy labeling in the last 30 years, they will impact both passenger car and truck fuel information starting with model year 2013 vehicles. Automakers may also voluntarily adopt the new labels earlier for model year 2012 vehicles.

image via DOT

A wide range of potential information will be available on the labels, depending upon the type of vehicle one is driving (i.e. gas powered, hybrid, electric vehicle, etc). Data types being included for gas and diesel vehicles are fuel economy, comparable fuel economy, fuel consumption rate, fuel economy/greenhouse gas rating, CO2 emissions and the smog rating.

Labels for electric vehicles, meanwhile, will include data on driving range, charge time, different operating modes, fuel economy and energy consumption expressed as a unit of fuel purchased.

Federal officials stated the new labeling system reflects “benefits of the historic passenger car and light truck fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions rule adopted…in 2010.” The rule, which includes increased efficiency for vehicles in model year 2012 through 2016, “will save 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the life of the program, while saving the average consumer $3,000.”

There will, of course, be some confusion around these new labels among consumers initially. AAA, likely among many others, said it has plans to help educate the public through its various outreach channels. Others joining AAA in support of these new labels, among others, are EDF and Consumers Union.

Next on the block in July are plans for the first-ever national fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards for commercial trucks, vans and buses built in 2014 to 2018. Even further down the road are an ever newer generation “of joint fuel economy/greenhouse gas emission standards for model year 2017-2025 passenger vehicles,” with plans to announce them come this September.

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.