Deciphering the New Fuel Economy Labels

As more and more hybrid and electric vehicles hit the market it has become more difficult for the consumer to compare vehicles on a cost and fuel efficiency basis. To help combat this problem The Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency have given a much needed face-lift to the current info-stickers that will be placed on all new cars beginning in 2013. 

The idea behind the stickers is one well known to Americans and fundamental to capitalism: Give the consumer the maximum amount of facts to make well informed purchase decisions. While the new labels are not fundamentally different in purpose, they do offer a glut of new improvements from the old (and rather plain) stickers. 

Fuel Label (plug-in hybrid vehicle using both electricity and gasoline)

New Feature Overview:

A. The EPA has now added a third "combined city/hwy" mpg which can be more easily adapted to drivers whose commute may contain a mix of city and highway.  The fuel economy label also shows the equivalent MPGs (MPGe) using an alternative energy source. A gallon of gasoline-equivalent means the number of kilowatt-hours of electricity that is equal to the energy in a gallon of gasoline. 

B. The driving range symbol identifies how many miles the vehicles are able to go before recharging or refueling.

C. In an attempt to show consumers value over time, this shows an estimate of how many dollars will be saved in fuel costs compared to the average car of that model year. 

D. The government has taken the time to do the math on fuel per year so that you don't have to. The estimate costs have been based on the car going 15,000 miles per year and a fuel cost of $3.70 per gallon. 

E. The greenhouse gas rating measures how many grams of CO2 your vehicle emits during a mile of driving. A perfect ten on the rating scale is anywhere from 0-236 grams per mile. 

F. The smog rating determines on a one to ten scale how many gases your car emits that will contribute to air pollution.

G. The QR will render helpful if you have a smartphone with a QR reader installed, by taking users to additional information about the vehicle and other helpful tools.

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