The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) have announced updated fuel economy labels for the 2013 model year and beyond.
The DOT and the EPA unveiled the three types of new fuel economy labels. One type is for cars that use gasoline or diesel, or hybrids that use only self-generated electricity. A second is for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and the third is for electric vehicles running strictly on plug-in power.
In addition to a combined highway/city MPG or MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent), the sticker also shows gallons per 100 miles, fuel economy and greenhouse gas ratings on a scale of one to 10, smog ratings on the same scale, and fuel costs. For PHEVs and EVs, the new label gives information on charging time and range.
For all-electric vehicles the labels include both kilowatt-hours per 100 miles and miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent (electricity consumption translated into mpg on an energy-equivalence basis). Miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent converts kilowatt-hours of electricity into gallons of gasoline (based on 33.7 kilowatt-hours per gallon), and reflects the more familiar mpg-type approach for a fuel that is very different from gasoline.
The labels also show how far EVs can travel on a fully-charged battery and how long it takes to charge the battery from a dedicated 240 V outlet or a standard 120 V wall outlet, depending on what the charging capability of the vehicle is.
The GHG emissions estimates and ratings shown on the label are tailpipe-only emissions. This means that the carbon dioxide emissions on EV labels will be zero, given that all of the CO2 emissions associated with EV operation occur at the power plant and other upstream sources. A new interactive tool at www.fueleconomy.gov will allow drivers to enter their zip code and estimate the greenhouse gas emissions from charging and driving a plug-in hybrid or electric car where they live.
Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs)
Depending on how they are designed, PHEVs can operate in two or three of these operating modes: batteries, charged from the electric grid, and electric motors; a combination of both gasoline and plug-in electric operation; and gasoline only, like a conventional hybrid vehicle. Because of these design choices, PHEVs are the most complex technology for a vehicle label.
For PHEVs, the agencies’ goal was to provide as much information as possible about each operating mode (all-electric, blended, and gasoline-only). This allows consumers to tailor the information about each operating mode to their own driving habits. Because there are multiple operating modes, the agencies chose to eliminate some information found on the labels for other technologies to keep the label readable.
For example, the labels show only the combined MPG or MPGe for each mode rather than also including city and highway fuel economy estimates. The agencies also chose to provide a single overall value for other parameters, such as tailpipe CO2emissions, 5-year fuel savings, annual fuel cost, and the various overall ratings rather than values for each operating mode. To calculate these values, the agencies considered the relative operation on electricity versus on gasoline for the typical driver.
Other Vehicle Technologies
The labels for other technologies, such as FFVs (flexible fuel vehicles), hydrogen FCVs (hydrogen fuel cell vehicles), and CNG (compressed natural gas) vehicles, are based on refinements to gasoline and diesel vehicle labels.[wzslider height=”400″ lightbox=”true”]