Information on Alternative Fuel and Advanced Technology Vehicles to be Added

For more than 30 years, EPA has provided fuel economy estimates in city and highway miles per gallon (MPG) values to new car shoppers. Beginning in 2012, a new type of fuel economy label will be available, making consumers’ vehicle purchasing decisions easier.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) are jointly proposing changes to the fuel economy labels consumers have traditionally found on new vehicle windows when they are car shopping.

The proposed rule is currently open for public comment on label design options and related issues. The public can view the proposed rule and labels at: http://www.epa.gov/fueleconomy/ or http://www.nhtsa.gov/fuel-economy/. Comments on all aspects of the proposal, including which designs or design features would best help consumers compare fuel economy, fuel costs and environmental impacts of different vehicles and across different vehicle technologies are welcome and can be submitted via email to: newlabels@epa.gov.

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson highlighted the importance of public opinion on the proposed new labels.

“We are asking the American people to tell us what they need to make the best economic and environmental decisions when buying a new car,” Jackson noted. “We want to help buyers find vehicles that meet their needs, keep the air clean and save them money at the pump.”

The goal of the proposed new fuel economy labels is to provide consumers with simple, straightforward energy and environmental comparisons across all different vehicle types.

“New technologies such as battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids are entering the American market in greater numbers,” explained U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “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.”

One factor behind the new labels is a section of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA), which specifically calls on EPA and DOT to rate available vehicles according to fuel economy, greenhouse gas emissions and smog forming pollutants. The new labels build upon current fuel economy labels by providing enhanced information on efficiency and environmental performance, including details about air pollutants.

The agencies have proposed two new label designs for comment. One design retains the present label’s focus on MPG and annual fuel costs, while updating the overall design and adding numerous scales that allow consumers to compare a vehicle with others on fuel economy, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and other air pollutants. For electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) under this design, the agencies are proposing to show energy use by translating electricity consumption into a MPG equivalent. Hybrid electric vehicles would feature different MPG values for both electric and gasoline-powered driving modes.

The second proposed design, a more dramatic change from the current MPG fuel economy labels, would feature letter grades ranging from “A+” to “D” designed to communicate a vehicle’s overall fuel economy and emissions performance. This design 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. Like the first proposed label design, this one would provide new information on fuel consumption, tailpipe carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and smog-related emissions.

Both of the new labels would also provide information on a new Web-based interactive tool that can be accessed by computer or on a dealer’s lot by smart phone. In addition to getting more in-depth information on the vehicle’s fuel economy and environmental impact, consumers would be able to personalize information about a vehicle’s performance.

EPA and DOT are proposing that the new window labels only present information on vehicle tailpipe emissions. Thus, upstream emissions associated with electricity generation or fuel exploration, extraction and refining would not be included on the label. The agencies, however, are proposing to include additional non-tailpipe emission information to consumers via the Web-based interactive tool.

The 60-day public comment period on the proposed new rule began Aug. 30 with the proposal’s publication in the Federal Register.

EPA Proposed Label 1a

The most similar design to the current fuel economy labels, this proposal uses MPG ratings and MPG equivalents to compare fuel economy. Changes include rating scales to compare the vehicle with others on fuel economy and environmental impact. The smart phone interactive Web feature is located in the lower right corner. Credit: EPA

EPA Proposed Label 2a

The second proposed labels include letter grade ratings to provide a comparison with other vehicles as well as an estimated dollar value of fuel savings for a five-year period against an average gasoline-powered car of the same model year. The information at the bottom includes fuel economy and environmental impact comparison scales. In addition, the smart phone interactive Web feature is also found below the letter grade. Credit: EPA




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