The website allows consumers to research the fuel economy and environmental impacts of the majority of vehicles available today. However, not all consumers take the time to research a vehicle online and instead rely on what the sticker says.

While the car sticker reveals information about the vehicle’s fuel efficiency, environmental impact data is not readily available. If proposed changes from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation are accepted, this will soon change.

The two agencies have jointly proposed that all car stickers be printed with a vehicle’s environmental grade, from A+ to D, beginning with model year 2012 vehicles. The new grades will allow consumers to compare a conventional vehicle’s environmental impact with that of a hybrid. The same comparison can be made between hybrid and electric vehicles, providing consumers a more comprehensive look at the environmental impact of newer vehicle technologies.

“New technologies such as battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids are entering the American market in greater numbers,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We need to provide consumers with labels that include fuel economy and environmental information so that buyers can make better informed decisions when purchasing new vehicles.” Source: EPA

There are currently two different label designs under discussion. The first will feature a large letter grade that encompasses a vehicle’s fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions. The label will also provide consumers with the estimated five-year fuel savings when compared to an average gasoline-powered vehicle.

The second proposed design just adapts the current label to include more environmental data including tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions and other smog-forming pollutants. Both proposed labels include information directing consumers to an interactive Web-based tool for more information. This website would be smart-phone friendly so today’s tech-savvy consumer can have instant access to the additional data.

The DOT and EPA have opened a 60-day public comment period in which everyday consumers can submit their feedback on the proposed label changes. For more information, visit the EPA’s Fuel Economy website.