Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Ray LaHood and EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson unveiled a new fuel economy label last week. In August 2010, the DOT and EPA posted two proposed label designs on the official Fuel Economy website. After a 60-day public comment period, the staff at the DOT and the EPA began to work on a more environmentally focused label that was still easy for consumers to understand.

The new label design is the combination of several different designs. Label data will differ between vehicle types including gasoline vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), electric vehicles (EVs) and more.

The gasoline vehicle label still includes the combined, city and highway fuel economy ratings, but the new PHEV label separates the fuel economy by electric mode miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) and gasoline only miles per gallon.

LaHood discussed the changes in a post for The White House Blog:

“These labels offer consumers more information in a more usable format. When shopping for a new vehicle, you'll be able to see your expected savings over a five-year period, a fuel economy comparison to other vehicles in the same class, and easy-to-understand guidance about each car or truck’s environmental impact. The bottom line is that these labels will help people make informed decisions when they're buying a car, so that they can save money at the gas pump.”

Vehicles will also receive a fuel economy and greenhouse gas rating as well as a smog rating based on tailpipe emissions. For example, a vehicle with a fuel economy of 38 mpg or higher and 0-236 grams/mile of CO2 emissions will receive a 10 greenhouse gas rating. The smog rating will be based on a variety of tailpipe emissions including carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, non-methane organic gas, particulates and formaldehyde emissions.

In addition to the inclusion of environmentally focused information, the new labels also feature a smartphone scannable QR code. Shoppers with a compatible smartphone can scan the QR code on the label to instantly receive more information about the vehicle’s fuel efficiency and environmental impact.

The new fuel economy labels will be required on all model year 2013 vehicles, but some automakers may include the new format on 2012 vehicles.