fueleconomy.govNew Fuel Economy labels feature smog rating, fuel savings.
The nation's lead environmental agency is again following in California's footsteps – or tire tracks – when it comes to cars. The Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation unveiled new fuel economy labels for vehicles last week that resemble those used in the Golden State.
This is another step toward more closely aligning federal policies with California's strict pollution standards for cars and trucks. As California Watch previously reported, the EPA and transportation department are working with the state to align standards for gas mileage and greenhouse gas emissions from passenger vehicles made from 2017 to 2025.
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The new labels will prominently feature gas mileage and fuel savings but, with a nod to California labels, will also feature a smog rating and a global warming score. California has featured both environmental scores on labels since Jan. 1, 2009. The federal labels will appear on new vehicles beginning in 2013.
The scores range from one to 10, with 10 being the highest environmental score, or least amount of pollution from smog-forming gases and greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. The FuelEconomy.gov website notes that electric vehicles have a smog rating of 10 because there are no tailpipe emissions.
“These labels are evidence that tough standards are already delivering clean, efficient cars that save consumers thousands of dollars over the life of the vehicle," said Mary Nichols, chair of the state's Air Resources Board, in a prepared statement. "I am confident that the standards we are now working on with our federal partners will continue to drive innovation and deliver even more savings and greater reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.”
In a sign of the times, the EPA's labels will feature a "quick response" code, allowing consumers to comparison shop on their smart phones. A quick response code is a type of bar code that automatically connects a smart phone to a website, provided the user has downloaded an application that scans the codes. The federal office also released a video with more information about how to use the code for comparison shopping.
fueleconomy.govA quick response code, or QR code is scanned by a smart phone and connects a user to a website
California's labels were developed before quick response technology was widely used in marketing, but the state does have a "drive clean" website that offers similar comparison shopping features.
"It’s likely that in the fall the board will consider the possibility of accepting the federal labels, and not require separate California labels as well," Air Resources Board representative Stanley Young said in an e-mail message.