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Feds unveil new fuel economy labels for cars and trucks

May 25, 2011 |  7:54 am

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Transportation unveiled new fuel economy labels for cars and trucks Wednesday. The new labels are their most significant update since 1975, when the federal government first required the EPA to provide fuel economy data about passenger cars and trucks.

Designed to provide more detailed information to consumers about vehicles' fuel efficiency, estimated annual fuel cost and environmental effects, the new labels will go into effect with 2013 model year vehicles, though some manufacturers may voluntarily adopt the new labels for the 2012 model year.

A joint effort between the EPA and DOT, the new labels will, for the first time, allow consumers to compare energy use and cost for new-technology cars, such as plug-in electrics, versus traditional gas-powered vehicles. They will include estimates on the amount of money consumers will save or spend on fuel for the next five years compared with an average new vehicle.

They will show how one model compares to the average in terms of smog-forming emissions and other emissions contributing to climate change. And they will estimate how much fuel or electricity is required to drive 100 miles.

The labels will also include a quick response, or QR code. Using a smart phone app, consumers can get even more comparative car information online, including fuel economy, and can access more precise information about a vehicle's fuel costs based on a driver's specific commute and driving habits.

"Our new fuel economy and environmental labels are a win for automobile consumers and for the nation's energy independence," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a statement issued Wednesday. "These labels will provide consumers with up-front information about a vehicle's fuel costs and savings so that they can make informed decisions when purchasing a new car."

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-- Susan Carpenter

Video: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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