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New fuel efficiency labels on cars helps consumers

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Consumers Union: New Fuel Efficiency Labels Will Help Consumers Compare, Shop for New Cars
Consumers Union CEO Jim Guest joins Transportation Secretary LaHood, EPA Administrator Jackson for unveiling of new labels in Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, today said the Obama administration’s new fuel-efficiency labels for automobiles will provide important, easy-to-read information to help people compare and shop for new vehicles.
Jim Guest, the President and CEO of Consumers Union, joined U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson today at a news conference to unveil the updated version of the familiar labels that consumers find on the windows of new cars.
“Consumers are telling us that they want better fuel economy, and they’re willing to pay for it,” Guest said. “These new labels will make it much easier for car shoppers to compare vehicles for fuel efficiency, and given the price of gas these days, that’s a big plus. Providing consumers with clear, accessible, and comparative information is a critical goal for us at Consumer Reports, and we see these new fuel-economy labels as advancing that goal, especially when people are feeling pinched at the pump.”
In a Consumer Reports survey released today, 62 percent of car owners said, for their next car, they expected to choose a model with much better or somewhat better fuel economy than the car they have now. 58 percent said they would pay extra for a more efficient vehicle. These findings were from a Consumer Reports National Research Center poll of 1,764 adult car owners surveyed between April 28 and May 2, 2011.
Consumers Union reviewed proposals for the new labels and provided input to the Department of Transportation and EPA.
Guest said, “For the first time, there will be a label specifically designed for electric vehicles, and that’s a good reflection of how the auto market is evolving. The new label for electric vehicles will help people understand important characteristics of these new vehicles, and its similarity to the label for strictly gas-powered cars will make comparisons simpler. We’re particularly pleased that the label includes estimates for driving range, charge time and kilowatt-hours per 100 miles, which are all critical elements we urged to be included.”
A number of elements of the label will make it easier for consumers to compare their car choices within and across categories of vehicles, Consumers Union said:
Cars will now have a label that includes a one-to-ten scale on fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions, so a consumer can compare how well that vehicle stacks up against all other vehicles. It will also tell you how that particular car’s fuel economy compares to others in the same class.
The old label listed only city and highway fuel economy estimates separately, while the new label prominently displays a combined city/highway fuel economy estimate. This will also make it easier for consumers to compare fuel economy among all vehicles.
The new label includes a gallons-per-100 miles, metric and annual fuel costs, so consumers can compare vehicles across fuel type.
The label has a smartphone code so consumers can obtain even more detailed information than can reasonably fit on the physical label. This includes the ability to get a more accurate estimate of your fuel costs based on your individual circumstances.

David Butler, 202-462-6262