Washington, D.C. – The U.S. is proposing changes to fuel economy labels, which will include environmental comparisons across a wide range of vehicles such as hybrids, plug-in vehicles and conventional gasoline engines. The Department of Transport (DOT) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are jointly proposing the changes and seeking public comment on label design options and related issues.

“New technologies such as battery-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids are entering the American market in greater numbers,” said 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.”

The DOT and EPA are looking to provide enhanced information on efficiency and environmental performance, including information about air pollutants. The two agencies are required to rate available vehicles according to fuel economy, greenhouse gas emissions and smog-forming pollutants.

One proposed label prominently features a letter grade to communicate the vehicle’s overall fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions performance, and 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 proposed label 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 proposed label designs expand on the content of the current label by including new information on fuel consumption, tailpipe carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and smog-related emissions. The new labels would also provide information on a new, Web-based interactive tool that can also be accessed by a smart phone.

For electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, the agencies are proposing to show energy use by translating electricity consumption into miles per gallon equivalent, and include energy use expressed in terms of kilowatt-hours per 100 miles. The proposed label would only present information on vehicle tailpipe emissions, and would not include upstream emissions, associated with electricity generation or refining fuel. However, this information would be available on a proposed Web site that would provide consumers with additional information on non-tailpipe emissions.

The proposed rule, labels and fact sheets can be found at NHTSA.

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