|Sample label for a plug-in gasoline hybrid-electric vehicle, which features fuel economy ratings for both electricity and gasoline. Click to enlarge.|
The US Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled the next-generation of fuel economy labels. The new labels, which are the most significant overhaul to fuel economy labels since the program began more than 30 years ago, will provide more comprehensive fuel efficiency information, including estimated annual fuel costs, savings, as well as information on each vehicle’s environmental impact.
Starting with model year 2013, the improved fuel economy labels will be required to be affixed to all new passenger cars and trucks—both conventional gasoline powered and “next generation” cars, such as plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles. The new labels will for the first time provide:
New ways to compare energy use and cost between new-technology cars that use electricity and conventional cars that are gasoline-powered.
Estimates on how much consumers will save or spend on fuel over the next five years compared to the average new vehicle.
Ratings of how a model compares to all others for smog emissions and emissions of pollution that contribute to climate change.
An estimate of how much fuel or electricity it takes to drive 100 miles.
Information on the driving range and charging time of an electric vehicle.
A QR Code that will allow users of smartphones to access online information about how various models compare on fuel economy and other environmental and energy factors. This tool will also allow consumers to enter information about their typical commutes and driving behavior in order to get a more precise estimate of fuel costs and savings.
EVs. For electric vehicles which operate solely on electricity, the labels include both kilowatt-hours per 100 miles and miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent (electricity consumption translated into mpg on an energy-equivalence basis). Miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent converts kilowatt-hours of electricity into gallons of gasoline (based on 33.7 kilowatt-hours per gallon), and reflects the more familiar mpg-type approach for a fuel that is very different from gasoline.
The labels also show how far EVs can travel on a fully-charged battery and how long it takes to charge the battery from a dedicated 240 V outlet or a standard 120 V wall outlet, depending on what the charging capability of the vehicle is.
The GHG emissions estimates and ratings shown on the label are tailpipe-only emissions. This means that the carbon dioxide emissions on EV labels will be zero, given that all of the CO2 emissions associated with EV operation occur at the power plant and other upstream sources. a new interactive tool at www.fueleconomy.gov will allow drivers to enter their zip code and estimate the greenhouse gas emissions from charging and driving a plug-in hybrid or electric car where they live.
Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs). Depending on how they are designed, PHEVs can operate in two or three of these operating modes: batteries, charged from the electric grid, and electric motors; a combination of both gasoline and plug-in electric operation; and gasoline only, like a conventional hybrid vehicle. Because of these design choices, PHEVs are the most complex technology for a vehicle label.
For PHEVs, the agencies’ goal was to provide as much information as possible about each operating mode (all-electric, blended, and gasoline-only). This allows consumers to tailor the information about each operating mode to their own driving habits. Because there are multiple operating modes, the agencies chose to eliminate some information found on the labels for other technologies to keep the label readable.
For example, the labels show only the combined MPG or MPGe for each mode rather than also including city and highway fuel economy estimates. The agencies also chose to provide a single overall value for other parameters, such as tailpipe CO2 emissions, 5-year fuel savings, annual fuel cost, and the various overall ratings rather than values for each operating mode. To calculate these values, the agencies considered the relative operation on electricity versus on gasoline for the typical driver.
Other Vehicle Technologies. The labels for other technologies, such as FFVs (flexible fuel vehicles), hydrogen FCVs (hydrogen fuel cell vehicles), and CNG (compressed natural gas) vehicles, are based on refinements to gasoline and diesel vehicle labels.
In July, the Obama Administration plans to finalize the first national fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards for commercial trucks, vans and buses built in 2014 to 2018. The Administration is also developing the next generation of joint fuel economy/greenhouse gas emission standards for model year 2017-2025 passenger vehicles and expects to announce the proposal in September 2011.