Last week, the U.S. Department of Energy released a new sticker design for all cars and light-trucks from 2013 on. The new stickers will for the first time require estimated annual fuel costs and rate the vehicle’s overall environmental impact.
Energy Independence and Security Act
The stickers stem from the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which required labels for energy usage. It is also rooted in the 2010 agreement between the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation, which concerns disclosing more information to the consumer.
Similar to earlier conceptual drafts
The stickers bear a strong resemblance to conceptual drafts released last year by the EPA. They display the type of fuel for each vehicle, the miles-per-gallon (MPG) ratings, levels of consumption and emission ratings.
Letter grades get nixed
The inclusion of letter grades on the new labels inspired much debate in earlier drafts. The grades were designed to rate vehicle efficiency from D to A+, with an average medium of B-. Instead, the labels will estimate five-year fuel costs for each new vehicle. Also, they will rate harmful emissions on a scale of 1 to 10.
Hybrid and electric cars
Plug-in electric and hybrid vehicles will bear labels depicting the estimated distance they can travel when fully charged.
QR rating makes it personal
Also required on the labels will be a QR code that can be scanned by a smartphone. The code can be used to calculate estimates on gasoline prices based on the driver’s personal habits as well as tailored to his or her locality. QR calculators will also be available online.
Washington calls it a ‘win-win’
“These new window stickers are a win-win,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “They’ll help consumers make informed choices to save at the pump.”
Largest overhaul in program history
The new stickers replace a five-year-old design which required much more basic information about estimated fuel economy. It is the largest overhaul ever of the 35-year-old sticker program.
More to come
In July, the EPA will reveal new fuel economy standards for commercial trucks and buses. And next fall, the new fuel economy standards for passenger vehicles will be released.
Although not required until 2013 vehicles go on sale, we may see the stickers on new vehicles as early as this fall.