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EPA, DOT Propose New Fuel Economy Labels

Agencies seek public comment on the most dramatic overhaul in the label's 30-year history

WASHINGTON - As a new generation of cars and light trucks start appearing on the market, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are jointly proposing changes to the fuel economy labels consumers see on the window of every new vehicle in dealer showrooms. The proposed rule seeks public comment on label design options and related issues. The public can view the proposed rule and labels at: http://www.epa.gov/fueleconomy/ and submit comments as part of the rulemaking process via email to: newlabels@epa.gov.  They can also review the proposed rule at http://www.nhtsa.gov/fuel-economy.

"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," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.  "New fuel economy labels will keep pace with the new generation of fuel efficient cars and trucks rolling off the line, and provide simple, straightforward updates to inform consumers about their choices in a rapidly changing market.  We want to help buyers find vehicles that meet their needs, keep the air clean and save them money at the pump."

"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 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.

EPA and DOT are proposing two new label designs for comment. One label design prominently 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 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 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 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.

For EVs and PHEVs, the agencies are proposing to show energy use by translating electricity consumption into miles per gallon equivalent. The proposed label designs for EVs also include energy use expressed in terms of kilowatt-hours per 100 miles.

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.

More information on the proposed labels and submitting comments: http://www.epa.gov/fueleconomy/ and http://www.nhtsa.gov/fuel-economy

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