Reimagining the Fuel Economy Label: GRID, LLC
GRID, LLC | Anna Lian Tes & Nate Luzod
The goal of our design was to remove the "preachiness" of the proposed letter grade label while delivering only enough useful data to let buyers make well-informed decisions for themselves.
We think that MPGs are still the most significant unit of measurement, so this figure was given top billing. To help buyers understand this vehicle's standing in objective terms, we included plain text beneath MPGs as well as the other most prominent numbers. The comparison copy references in-class only, since comparing a Chevrolet Silverado to a Smart ForTwo would be impractical and meaningless.
Immediately following are the cost implications of MPGs in numbers that are easy to evaluate. A monthly cost is natural way of determining how something will affect us; we pay our phone bills monthly, pay our rent monthly, we make bigger purchase decisions based on monthly costs. Understanding the vehicle's fuel cost in this context would help us immediately understand how it will affect or pocketbooks.
We featured emissions in CO2 only. There are "other" pollutants to consider, but CO2 seems the most significant. We included values for annual tailpipe emissions, but also added a figure for manufacturing emissions as well as life cycle. On the Gas + Electric label, we also included an "annual electricity" value, indicating how much your local power plant would be emitting each year by charging your vehicle's batteries. The idea is to give the buyer a more holistic understanding of the vehicle's impact from cradle-to-grave.
As designers, it was difficult to leave the label's aesthetics as plain and utilitarian as the current labeling. In this case we discovered that any sort of coloring seemed to indicate suggestion or bias (note that the proposed "Grade A" label is colored green). We eliminated the color palette of the new labels in favor of a plain EPA blue for all vehicle types.
We also discovered that any data visualization made the label overly complex and not entirely "scannable". We considered buyers walking the dealership lot and what their behavior might be. The text is large where appropriate; easy to comprehend as you walk past and readable from a reasonable distance. The layout is durable enough for black and white photo-copying, low-quality faxing, and at minimum the most valuable data would be legible from low-fi camera phone images.
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