EPA, DOT Propose New Fuel Economy Labels

September 1, 2010

Photo of a sleek, new car against a flat background.

Proposed new fuel economy labels on vehicles such as the Chevy Volt could provide consumers with energy and environmental comparisons by 2012.
Credit: GM Corp.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on August 30 that they are jointly proposing changes to the fuel economy labels displayed on new vehicles. The goal of the overhaul is to provide consumers with 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. The agencies are seeking public comment on proposed label design options and aim to complete the rule in time for the fresh labels to appear on 2012 model year vehicles.

For EVs and PHEVs, EPA and DOT want to show energy use by translating electricity consumption into miles per gallon equivalent. The proposed labels for EVs also include energy use expressed in terms of kilowatt-hours per 100 miles. The agencies have created two new label designs for comment. One features a letter grade 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. The second proposal retains the current label's focus on miles per gallon and annual fuel costs, while updating the overall design and adding the required new comparison information on fuel economy and emissions. Both updates expand on the content of the current label by including new information on fuel consumption, tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions, and smog-related emissions. The agencies will open a 60-day comment period following publication of the proposal in the Federal Register. See the EPA press release, the EPA Fuel Economy Label Web site with the proposed rule and labels, and the National Highway Safety Traffic Safety Administration's Fuel Economy Web site.