Consumers throughout the United States look to the EPA fuel mileage sticker when shopping for new cars and trucks. This sticker is only second to the price tag in the minds of savvy shoppers. The evolution of the automotive market toward greener vehicles has turned the EPA label into a relic. The EPA is responding by redesigning the label in anticipation of a more dynamic generation of vehicles. Readers will have 60 days to submit their comments and criticisms to the EPA through this website.
The traditional EPA label did not vary based on vehicle classes and drive systems. The EPA has proposed two versions of the mileage sticker for five vehicle classes. The gas-powered vehicle label will be joined by labels for EVs, plug-in hybrids, flex fuel vehicles and compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles.
The first version of the proposed EPA label looks similar to a door hanger. The top of the label features a letter grade between A+ and D based on metrics like fuel mileage and tailpipe emissions. The EPA would also include a five-year estimate of fuel savings based on comparisons to other vehicles in the class. The bottom section of this label lists MPG ratings for city and highway driving along with carbon dioxide emissions. Users would also be able to see where a vehicle fits into the larger market based on combined MPG, carbon emissions and other emissions.
The EPA also proposed a second label pictured above that shares a similar layout to the original label. The top panel details the EPA’s MPG estimates as well as the annual fuel cost for a vehicle. This panel is adapted for each type of vehicle to recognize MPG differences for electric and gas-powered vehicles. The bottom left panel shows how a selected vehicle compares to other vehicles in the class based on combined MPG. The bottom right panel focuses on environmental impact with vehicle comparisons for greenhouse gas emissions and other emissions. Both labels feature smartphone bar codes that allow consumers to find vehicle reports and EPA information about new vehicles.
This duo of fuel mileage labels shows the EPA’s efforts to educate the public about the growing green vehicle market. The first label may run into trouble due to the subjectivity of using letter grades for new vehicles. The latter label could be criticized for failing to have the five-year cost estimate that might help consumers make smarter decisions. The American public should be active in refining these proposed labels during the next two months. The selected label will impact everything from vehicle advertising to consumer guides.