The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking consumer help to create an effective fuel rating system for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. In response to the call for action from consumers, automakers and environmentalists, the EPA released a letter in late September announcing that the agency is actively researching and seeking the best way to report correct information on fuel economy labels.

According to current EPA standards, the Chevrolet Volt reports an impressive 230 miles per gallon, and the Nissan Leaf battery-powered car reports an even higher 367 miles per gallon. However, consumers and automakers have begun to question the accuracy of those ratings.

Another motivator to change came on September 10 when Israel’s ETV Motors made a proposal suggesting that the government take the lead to create a new multiple standards. ETV Motors is currently working on battery technology and a hybrid concept that uses a microturbine to replenish an EV’s batteries, and they understand the importance of an accurate ratings system.


Alternative fuel vehicles are currently measured by MPG, but consumers and automakers are now calling on the EPA for a more effective fuel rating system. Credit: NAFTC

ETV’s chief operating officer, Arnold Roth, explained that the EPA needs to create the rules because “what the EPA does will have a ripple effect into all markets.”

According to Greenwire, ETV suggested that the new fuel efficiency rating include three pieces of information: 1) how far the car can go on a single plug-in battery charge; 2) how energy intensive the battery is; and 3) how much gasoline it consumes when the battery runs out.

In their letter, the EPA admitted that designing test procedures for advanced technology vehicles “can be very complicated.” Further, the EPA letter said it was seeking input on consumer labels that could “provide practical, usable and meaningful information to vehicle purchasers” who are interested in alternative fuel vehicles.

Many interested people have responded to the call for help by making suggestions. One of the most prevalent responses expresses the idea that although MPG is a recognizable measure, it is not effective for alternative fuel vehicles. Others believe that a simple star rating such as those on home appliances might be most easily understood.

The decision is now in the EPA’s hands as they continue weighing their options and conducting research in order to provide the most easily understood and accurate information to interested car buyers.

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