6 Reasons to Love the New EPA Car Labels


Flickr phot by: Helen Taylor

As we’ve reported here, here, and here, EPA has designed and released for public comment two options for new information labels one of which will go on new cars in 2012.  Both labels have a slick new look as well as helpful information comparing fuel efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions, tail pipe emissions between vehicles, and annual fueling costs.  Label Option 1 contains additional information, a letter grade that reflects fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions and fuel savings over a five year period based on average use.



Letter grades make car buying easier.

1. It’s simple: Focus groups and market experts alike emphasized the need for a simple, easy-to-understand label format.  The letter grades achieve this by providing a central focus to the label that gives information on the performance not just of that vehicle but relative to other vehicles. 

2. It’s familiar: Letter grades for new vehicles, like health and safety grades for restaurants, provide you with a single piece of data that is instantly familiar and thus meaningful to you.

3. It’s informative: The label with a letter grade contains more information not less than the alternative.  The letter grade simply provides an easy-to-remember representation of the more detailed information contained in the rest of the label and the website.  This doesn’t mean you haven’t checked the numbers for yourself; it means you now have a single representation of all those details.

4. It’s Easy to Remember: Imagine this scenario.  You’re discussing the front runners in your search for a new car with your partner.  This is a big purchase so you’ve done some background research on all the candidates but you have a lot of numbers swimming in your head.  Would it be easier to have one fuel efficiency letter grade to refer to that represents multiple numbers which you remember easily?  Or do you want to pore over a spread sheet with city mpg, highway mpg, not to mention miles/kwh etc. for electric vehicles?

New labels will help consumers and the environment.

5. First national environmental metric for vehicles:  EPA focus groups show that nine percent of consumers currently consider environmental impacts in their car buying decision.  With the information clearly displayed right on the sticker, maybe it will be easier now to factor the environment in without having to research the issue extensively.

6. Easy comparison between vehicles: EPA focus groups also show that consumers don’t tend to limit themselves to one class or type of vehicle when shopping.  Most vehicle manufacturers wanted comparisons made only within a class of vehicle.  EPA’s new labels give you what you need and set fuel efficiency, environmental performance and fuel costs in context among all vehicles.

Let EPA know what you think about the new labels here.

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