• Aug 30, 2010

EPA/DOT Proposed Fuel Economy Labels – Click above for high-res versions

According to the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation are charged with designing new fuel economy labels for vehicle stickers that appear in the window of new vehicles at the dealership. Today the two agencies have put forth a pair of design proposals and are asking the public to comment on which they like better and why.

Both labels have been designed to better incorporate new vehicle types that aren't represented well by the current labels, including mainly electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. In addition to information already provided (fuel economy and estimated annual fuel cost), the new labels would also add such things as indicators for carbon dioxide and other smog-promoting emissions, fuel cost savings compared to an average gasoline-powered vehicle of the same model year and even a QR code that allows smartphones to collect the data.

In order to accommodate the growing crop of EVs and plug-in hybrids, the new proposed labels would also translate the energy usage of such vehicles into a miles per gallon equivalent, or MPGe. In the case of the first label design (the tall, thin one), a letter grade would also be featured prominently that corresponds to a vehicle's overall environmental performance.

You can check out both designs in the gallery below, or head over to epa.gov/fueleconomy and tell these agencies what you think directly. Either way, a new label's on its way, so speak now or forever hold your tongue.



[Source: EPA]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 45 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      I love it. I'd like to see the info on the plug-in hybrid variant.

      Also, putting a QR code on is a good idea. Although once that happens car makers will want to put on their own QR code, so now every car will have multiple QR codes on the window in the dealer, might be a bit busy/confusing.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @ Bip-D-Bo

        "The consumer will more easily realte to kW*hr because that's what they pay for on their power bill."

        Maybe in 20 or 30 years when a much higher percentage of cars are electric, but right now there is only ONE electric car on the road (and soon to be 3 when the Leaf, and extended-range EV Volt comes out this year)... so basically right now EVs are not competing against each other, but rather competing against ICE cars. You have to use a metric that makes them easily compared to an Accord or Malibu.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I think for electric vehicles, just take away MPGe. The consumer will more easily realte to kW*hr because that's what they pay for on their power bill. 100 years from now, if gas cars can only be seen in a museum, will it just be interesting trivia where the archaic MPGe figures came from kind of like horsepower?

        Also, I wish all labels in including standard ICE cars would just list gallons per 100 miles rather than mpg, both city and highway. That way person can more easily tell how much money gas will go into the car during its life. For an ICE, assuming 100,000 miles, just multiply the number by 1,000.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I don't think the conversion is gonna be a problem. The labels for electric and phev have kw-hr numbers.

        http://www.epa.gov/fueleconomy/label.htm

        I'm not sure what reference number should be the standard, but the public is comfortable with MPG.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I think this system is horribly misleading. Firstly the MPGe for electric vehicles is measured based on 33.7 KWHr = 1 gallon of gasoline. While that's technically correct for energy conversion, it assumes that power plants and power transmission is 100% efficient. If I build a powerplant that runs gasoline to charge my electric car, I will need more than 1 gallon of gasoline to get 33.7 KWHrs of electricity.

        The second big issue is measures carbon only at the tail pipe, but includes carbon emmissions are part of the grading system. So again electric get a big bonus because they have no tailpipe emissions and only powerplant emissions.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @ Paulinator66

        That would require intelligence, a trait missing amongst a large percentage of the population at this time.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I'm not sure the idea of MPGe for the plug-in cars. It seems arbitrary. If gasoline is what you put into your car to make it go then shouldn't we use kilowatts as the replacement for gallons?

        It would be rated as miles per kilowatt (MPKw) of electricity put into the vehicle. Then you'd be able to easily calculate how much it would cost to go a certain mileage. . .just like MPG does for us now. Continuing MPGs, then converting, seems like an unnecessary and confusing step.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @ Paulinator66

        "miles per kilowatt " You're kidding right??

        The average consumer has no idea how to calculate their own actual miles per gallon that they drive in their regular gasoline car, and you really think adding an entirely different calculation for cost isn't going to confuse the hell out of them???

        I partially agree that I think for electric vehicles a side-bar should be added that says something to the effect of "per 100 miles, this vehicles uses X gallons of gas and Y Kw's of electrivity" and even estimates how much that costs, but that should probably be only in the fine print.

        You are talking about a nation that didn't convert to the metric system, and you think that people are going to convert their mileage costs to MPKw's??
        • 4 Years Ago
        I also liked them. Informed customers make the best decisions.
      blue3874
      • 4 Years Ago
      That B grade reminds me of the B train on the New York City subway. Except the B is orange, not yellow.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I can see the NY MTA suing the EPA of those grade symbols since they look exactly like the route designations for the NYC subway.
      • 4 Years Ago
      all this means nothing if the actually ratings don't represent real-world results...which we're starting to seeing with products such as the GMC Terrain being rated at 32mpg...while reviewers can barely eek 20mpg.

      If car makers are cheating the system, and the EPA is allowing, no amount of fancy labels will help potential customers.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The second one definitely. Except the consumption (3.8) should be the bigger number not the 26mpg. Consumption is by far a more meaningful number than mpg.

      For comparison, a 20mpg = 5 gallons per 100 mile
      40mpg = 2.5 gallons per 100 mile

      An example upgrading vehicles:
      A 10mpg truck to a 20mpg, saves 5 gallons over a hundred miles.
      A 20mpg to 40mpg car, saves 2.5 gallons over a hunded miles.



        • 4 Years Ago
        How is that more meaningful? It'd be like if, instead of MPH, your speedometer told you how much time it will take you to drive 100 miles.

        • 4 Years Ago
        It's more meaningful because it doesn't use the miles per gallon unit of measurement just because we've used it for the past 100 years.

        It shows the truth about how increasing the fuel economy of fuel inefficient vehicles by 10 MPG saves a lot more money than increasing the fuel efficient vehicle by 10 MPG. For example, 10 to 20 MPG cuts a fuel bill in half, whereas is you have a 100 MPG vehicle and increase its fuel economy by 10 MPG, you're cutting your fuel bill by only 10%.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @henrykrinkle
        You did not convert to money. That's why your math is wrong.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Jeff
        "Its easy to see how much you would spend on gas driving any car over a distance of 100 miles. With mpg, the most direct comparison you can make is, "if I put a gallon of gas in my tank, how far can i drive?" which is not a situation people find themselves in very often"

        But I suppose people often find themselves driving exactly 100 miles? If not, they'll still have to do some math to figure their costs.

        @James
        "i.e., 100 mpg is not twice as good as 50 mpg, it's only around 15% better! But 0.03 gpm is twice as good as 0.015 gpm!"

        My math skills might not be great but 50mpg = 2gal/100miles or .02gpm and 100mpg = 1gal/100miles or .01gpm. Any way you slice it, that's twice as good. If your gallons used is half, then your mileage doubles. It's just six of one and half a dozen of the other.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It's better because of alot of the reasons mentioned above, and it's a much more direct measure of HOW MUCH gas is used by this vehicle, which I believe is what people are actually after. Sure with a bit of math you can get there from mpg, but it's not obvious.

        If they let me link to another site...

        http://www.edmunds.com/advice/fueleconomy/articles/137851/article.html
        • 4 Years Ago
        Gallons/mi is linear, mi/gallon is logarithmic.

        i.e., 100 mpg is not twice as good as 50 mpg, it's only around 15% better! But 0.03 gpm is twice as good as 0.015 gpm! If decimal points confuse you, we can make it 3 and 1.5 cgpm, or 30 and 15 hgpm.

        That's why it's more clear.
        • 4 Years Ago
        L/100km or G/100 miles puts the actual cost of running a car easily in perspective, and makes it easier to compare one car to the next. Its easy to see how much you would spend on gas driving any car over a distance of 100 miles. With mpg, the most direct comparison you can make is, "if I put a gallon of gas in my tank, how far can i drive?" which is not a situation people find themselves in very often. Anybody with a bit of math skills can take the time to flip it around of course, but gas/distance makes things more directly obvious.

        I think Label 2 is the best, at least with respect to how it treats PHEVs, it gives the most useful information. I still think a graph would be useful to show MPGe vs distance driven. It would be flat to start, holding at the electric range MPGe of 99 or whatever it is, and then drop off once the battery used up, gradually tapering off to the gas mode MPG if you drive very long distances. I appreciate what they're trying to do with the letter grade, but I think it's a bit too simplified, considering different classes of vehicles and the fact that your mileage will vary A LOT if you drive a PHEV depending on your daily driving distance.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I agree that the 2nd option seems to be much better. I much prefer having more of the relevant info(mileage, energy cost, etc) in larger, more bold letters rather than some arbitrary letter grade which most people won't relate to any actual figures.

        The 2nd one also seems to give a lot more info as well for those that actually want to research their cars more than saying, "I'm looking for a grade B car".
        • 4 Years Ago
        One is linear, the other is logarithmic, but which is which depends on what you want to know.

        If you want to know consumption, then mpg is logarithmic and less obvious.
        If you want to know how far you can travel on a given amount of fuel, then l/100km is logarithmic and less obvious.

        Neither is inherently better or worse than the other. It really depends on what you want to measure.
      • 4 Years Ago
      When gas prices were at their worst I noticed a pontiac GTO had roughly the same annual fuel cost as a vw jetta 2.0t... that was until i noticed the *average fuel price* (in fine print) for the GTO was $1.55! Lets hope they avoid misleading numbers like that on the new labels eh?
      • 4 Years Ago
      I don't like the letter grade option as it seems easy to game. For one, most people would not be bothered to read up on how those grades get appointed. Because of this, the EPA or DOT can easily change the criteria for getting a certain grade without most of the populace knowing. Another thing is that the car manufacturers can easily take advantage of the system. For example, if A means a combined mpg of 30-35, car manufactures will just aim for 30mpg to get that A status. Why bother to get 35mpg when they know that most people will be looking at that letter grade and not bother with actual figures (even though the figures might be not 100% accurate).
        • 4 Years Ago
        Wouldn't it be confusing for the average person, if the range dynamically shifted upward, so a car which used to have an A grade, now is a B? To that person, this would seem like the car he or she bought is now inferior, and that they got ripped off.
        • 4 Years Ago
        For one thing, I don't think it's based on a static range... it's based on all the other cars on the road. so it's dynamic. At least that is what it appears to be.

        If all car makers aim for 30 MPG which was an "A" last, but now if everyone is getting 30 MPG, then 30 MPG becomes only an "average" number. That means that getting 30 MPG would only get a "B" or something like that.

        This is actually how it should work because it pushes car makers to continually improve against the competition to always get a good grade.

        This is using competition between car makers to your advantage.
        • 4 Years Ago
        No, it wouldn't be confusing, because it lists the actual MPG number right below the letter grade.

        The letter grade is a simple histographic designation based on the average and standard deviation of all vehicles on the road. If the car gets an average MPG, it gets a C. If it's one standard deviation above the average, it gets a B. That's about as dumb simple as it can possibly get.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @ Lurk

        No, it wouldn't be confusing at all... it would simply state that the super efficient car that they bought 5 years ago is now only average as more efficient cars come online.

        That's kind of the whole point... to push car makers, through competition, into improving their products. That's using Capitalism to better the efficiency of cars.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I like the first one best (the one with a grade).

      And I really like the MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent), but I am trying to figure out how they figured that out. Is it simply based on the 1st 100 miles of travel??? (which to me seems like a rather logical way to go)

      Giving people information of not only how much fuel they will use each year, but also how much they can SAVE compared to some other model is a great way of comparing fuel economy. That seems to be similar to the way that EnergyStar ratings work.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I also (unrealistically) hope that this puts an end to people saying that their XYZ car "gets 32 MPG"... when the reality is that it MIGHT get 32 MPG, but only on the highway and only when driven in a sane manner, while during regular driving around town it gets closer to 22 MPG.
        These people are just fooling themselves into thinking their cars gets about 20% better mileage than it really does.

        That's a huge pet peeve of mine... and unfortunately I know people are going to continue to use the much higher HW number.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I like option 2, option 1 with the grade letter can be misleading and be abused by manufactures...plus the grade rating will take away the spot light from whats more of concern which is the mpg..
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'd love to see the rating my 2010 GT500 would get. Probably a F and I'd wear it with pride.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The dollar savfings in fuel is based on how much per gallon?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Do all GM and Chrysler cars get "a good solid B+"?

      /ducking
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