EPA, DOT Propose New Fuel Economy Labels; Addressing GHG Emissions, Fuel Consumption and Advanced Technology Vehicles
|Four samples of the first proposed label design with the letter grade. From left to right: EV, PHEV, gasoline/diesel, gasoline/diesel. Color is integral to the new schemes. Source: EPA. Click to enlarge.|
The US Department of Transportation (DOT) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are jointly proposing changes to the fuel economy labels consumers see on the window of new vehicles in dealer showrooms. The proposed rule seeks public comment on label design options and related issues.
EPA and DOT are proposing two new label designs for comment. One label design prominently features a letter grade (ranging from A+ to D) to communicate the vehicle’s overall fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions performance. The new design will 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.
|A sample of the second proposed label for an extended range electric vehicle. Click to enlarge.|
The second proposed label 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 options add to the content found on the current label and include the following information for gasoline and diesel vehicles:
- Fuel Economy: City and highway miles per gallon (mpg) and a slider bar comparing vehicle’s fuel economy to that of all other vehicles
- Fuel Consumption: Combined city/highway gallons per 100 miles
- Greenhouse Gases: Tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions in grams per mile and a slider bar comparing the vehicle’s CO2 emissions to those of all other vehicles
- Other Emissions: A slider bar comparing a vehicle’s smog-related emissions to those of all other vehicles
- Fuel Cost: Estimated annual costs of fueling the vehicle
- Comparable Fuel Economy: A comparison of the vehicle’s fuel economy to that of comparable vehicles
- Smart phone interactive tool: A symbol that smart phones can read for additional consumer information (also known as a QRR code)
The labels for advanced technology vehicle contain additional information tailored to these technologies, including:
- Driving Range: Identifies how many miles electric vehicles (EVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles can go before recharging or refueling.
- Different Modes: Some vehicles, such as plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles, have different operating modes: all-electric, blended, and gasoline-only. The labels provide fuel economy information for each distinct operating mode.
- Energy Consumption Measurement: For EVs, the label shows energy use via both a miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent (mpg-e) and kilowatt-hours per 100 miles metric; PHEV labels show only the mpg-e metric. Mpg-e converts kilowatt-hours of electricity to gallons of gasoline based on energy equivalency.
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.
DOT and EPA encourage public feedback 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.
The agencies are proposing that the label only present information on vehicle tailpipe emissions. Upstream emissions, which are associated with electricity generation or refining fuel, would not be displayed on the label. EPA and DOT propose to develop a website to provide consumers additional information on non-tailpipe emissions, while taking comment on other approaches to provide consumer information about lifecycle emissions across various vehicle fuels and technologies. The agencies are aiming to complete the rule in time to allow the new label to appear on the windows of as many 2012 model year vehicles as possible.
DOT and EPA are providing a 60-day public comment period that begins with the proposal’s publication in the Federal Register.
The goal of the new fuel economy labels 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.
DOT and EPA are looking to provide enhanced information on efficiency and environmental performance—including information about air pollutants, such as smog, that impact public health—to consumers. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 specifically calls on EPA and DOT to rate available vehicles according to fuel economy, greenhouse gas emissions and smog forming pollutants.