Federal Regulators Propose New Fuel Economy Labels

Federal regulators have unveiled a proposal for an updated vehicle label that would give consumers more information on a new car’s fuel efficiency and carbon foot-print. Wendy Siegle reports.


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current fuel label The proposed changes would affect the look of the sticker that’s displayed on the window of a new car outlining the vehicle’s fuel efficiency. The Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency made the proposal, calling it the biggest overhaul of vehicle fuel economy labels since they were launched 30 years ago. Gina McCarthy is with EPA.

“We think a new label is absolutely necessary to help consumers make the right decision for their wallet, and for the environment.”

Federal regulators are floating two different designs for the new sticker. Both contain the same key information, including CO2 and fuel economy measurements; the details are just presented differently. One looks a lot like the current label, which emphasizes miles per gallon and estimated annual fuel costs. The other displays a giant letter grade for overall fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions. Most electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids would score in the A’s while the Ferrari 612 would fall in the D’s. No car would receive an F. Unlike the current label, vehicles would be compared to all models.

“You are not getting SUVs just compared with SUVs. They are compared with the full range of models. And that’s the basis for the grading and for the comparisons that you will see on the second label as well.”

two new proposed stickers

Two proposed designs for the new sticker.
To view more information on the stickers, visit the long sticker’s page or the wide sticker’s page

It’s the first time potential car buyers will be able to get details of the vehicle’s tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions off the label. That addition is required by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which in part mandates that new vehicle labels carry information on greenhouse gases and other air pollutants. David Strickland is the administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. With Americans embracing advanced technology vehicles like plug-in hybrids, Strickland says updating the fuel economy label is long overdue.

“These old petroleum-centric labels simply just aren’t just good enough anymore. We’re proposing these improvements now, because the pace of improvement in fuel economy and the development of alternative energy power trends for new cars and truck will only increase going forward.”

Upstream emissions, like those associated with electricity generation, would not be taken into account. The new sticker would also display a smartphone readable code. Car shoppers could scan the code to get more information and perform more comparisons. Consumers can expect to see the winning label on 2012 models. Officials are holding a 60 day public comment period and are looking for feedback. You can find more information at