Public Hearings Begin on Proposed New Fuel Economy Labels

October 14, 2010

Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396,

(Chicago – October 14, 2010) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) are holding public hearings in Chicago today about their plans to redesign the fuel economy labels for passenger cars and trucks. This will be the first time in 30 years that the label design will be overhauled.

Passenger cars and trucks are responsible for about 44 percent of all U.S. oil consumption, and for almost 20 percent of the pollution that causes climate change. The new labels are designed to provide Americans who are shopping for new vehicles with key information on fuel efficiency and air pollution. Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) expert Peter Zalzal was among those testifying in Chicago today in support of the move to empower consumers.

“These proposed new labels have more information and they’re easier for consumers to understand,” said Zalzal. “They’ll make it easier for Americans to comparison shop. We’re all looking for ways to spend less money at the gas pump, and many of us would like to reduce our addiction to imported oil and to fight climate change. The new labels give us the tools we need to make informed choices.”

EPA and DOT are holding public hearings to get input on the labels before picking a final design. The next public hearing will be in Los Angeles on October 21st. You can also view the proposed new labels on the web and offer your comments.

EPA and DOT previously conducted a series of focus groups, held across the country, as part of the redesign process. The focus groups helped identify consumer use of current labels and generated feedback on consumers’ understanding of, and preference for, metrics on advanced technology vehicle labels. In the focus groups, consumers asked that EPA and DOT provide labels that:

  • Create an immediate first impression for consumers.
  • Are easy to read and understand quickly.
  • Clearly identify vehicle technology (conventional, electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid vehicles).
  • Utilize color.
  • Group information to allow people to deal with ‘more information.’
  • Are consistent in content and design across technologies.
  • Allow for comparison across technologies.
  • Make it easy to identify the most fuel efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles.

EPA and DOT then developed two new label designs. They are now gathering public input about the two choices, through the public hearings and website comments, before picking the final version. The proposed new labels will have expanded information for car buyers, including ratings on fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions. One of the proposals features a letter grade based on fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions performance, and an estimate of cost savings at the gas pump over five years compared with the average gasoline-powered vehicle.

The goal is to make it easier for consumers to compare all types of vehicles, including new technologies like electric vehicles, and to help buyers make more informed choices when they’re shopping for new passenger cars or trucks. EDF testified about the benefits of the letter-grade version.

“EDF strongly supports the effort to convey vital information to car buyers in ways that will be more useful and easier to understand” said Zalzal. “The additional information on the proposed new labels – and especially the clear and familiar presentation of the letter-grade label — will help consumers buy new cars and trucks that more fully reflect their preferences. The labels will help us protect our economy, our security and our environment.”

More information about the public hearings is available on EPA’s website.