The EPA’s new fuel economy label for 2013 will soon be appearing on vehicle window stickers at a dealer near you. Required for all 2013 model year vehicles (49 CFR Part 575), the revised EPA fuel economy sticker includes a wealth of new vehicle information regarding vehicle fuel consumption and emissions with such data as greenhouse gas emissions, smog rating, and fuel cost over a 5 year period. These revised labels may begin appearing on 2012 vehicles by voluntary early compliance so you should familiarize yourself with the new comparison and fuel economy information as soon as possible to take advantage of this information for your next vehicle purchase.
The “NHTSA and EPA believe that these changes will help consumers to make more informed vehicle purchase decisions, particularly as the future automotive marketplace provides more diverse vehicle technologies from which consumers may choose.” Federal Register, Vol. 76, 39478. The EPA cites some of the following benefits of its new label as:
* New ways to compare energy use and cost between new-technology cars that use electricity and conventional cars that are gasoline-powered.
* Useful estimates on how much consumers will save or spend on fuel over the next five years compared to the average new vehicle.
* Easy-to-read ratings of how a model compares to all others for smog emissions and emissions of pollution that contribute to climate change
EPA-420-F-11-017 May 2011.
An example of the revised label taken from the EPA’s website is shown below. Created for a fictitious gasoline powered vehicle you can see the familiar mpg Fuel Economy rating in the upper left corner. Containing new emissions and consumption information, this new label also incorporates additional information for consideration such as: annual fuel cost (lower left), comparison fuel economy on a 1 to 10 scale, and comparison fuel cost over a 5 year period (upper right).
Need even more information on the fuel economy and environmental factors for this vehicle? The new label also incorporates a QR code for those who want to do further research on their smartphones. Smog rating, fuel usage per 100 miles travelled, greenhouse gas emissions rating, and CO2 grams emitted per mile travelled information also included on the label for the data geeks in all of us. Further detailed information on the information contained in the new fuel economy label can be found here in the official EPA brochure: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/carlabel/420f11017.pdf
A reminder here is in order on the accuracy of any information contained on the fuel economy label, and that is, the economy ratings for any category are merely estimates. The manufacturer makes no promises regarding the accuracy of this information, and the EPA always advises that the information presented will vary based on driving habits and conditions. The EPA estimates are meant to be a general guideline for consumers, particularly to compare the relative fuel economy of one vehicle to another. EPA420-R-06-017, December 2006. Keep in mind when reviewing this data that its primary purpose is for vehicle-to-vehicle comparisons, not as an absolute indicator of the fuel economy you will achieve with the vehicle.
The 2013 labels contain a wealth of information not previously available, allowing consumers more access to fuel economy information on vehicles than ever before, yet presented in an easily digestible package. Further, the QR code in the lower right allows limitless possibilities for vehicle comparison information supplemental to the paper label. The additional information required on the EPA label, as prompted by the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, should make better consumers out of all of us when it comes to fuel economy and greenhouse emissions. Hopefully, as we begin to consider items like grams of CO2 emitted per mile and smog ratings in our buying decisions, the manufacturers will also consider them in their build decisions, and continue to strive for improved fuel efficiency and reduced greenhouse gas emissions in their future vehicle designs.