NHTSA seeks comments on alternative fuel vehicle labeling rule

By Erin Voegele | February 26, 2014

On Feb. 20, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register proposing to require certain new vehicles to feature badges, labels and owner’s manual information on alternative fuels with the goal of increasing consumer awareness. The proposal would apply to new passenger cars, low speed vehicles and light-duty trucks rated at not more than 8,500 pounds. 

According to the rulemaking, Congress directed the Secretary of Transportation to develop and implement varied and wide-ranging consumer information and education initiatives related to fuel economy, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, alternative fuels and thermal management technologies in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. This rulemaking would help meet those goals.

The proposal would require manufacturers to identify each vehicle capable of running on alternative fuel by means of a permanent and prominent display affixed to the exterior of the vehicle. The manufacturer would add text to the owners’ manuals of alternative fuel vehicles describing the capabilities and benefits of using alternative fuels. In addition, each vehicle capable of running on alternative fuels would be identified by a label in the fuel filler compartment.

Alternative fuels identified in the rulemaking include methanol, denatured ethanol, other alcohols, natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, hydrogen, coal-derived liquid fuels, fuels (except alcohol) derived from biological materials, and electricity (including electricity from solar energy).

The NHTSA is seeking comments on several provisions of the proposal, including whether or not the standardization of existing manufacturer labels or badging would best serve the purpose of the proposal. Stakeholders are also asked to weigh in on the specific content and design of the labels and badges.

The program is expected to take effect in September 2016. A public comment period is open through April 21. Additional details on the proposal are available on the Federal Register website. Comments can be submitted on Regulations.gov under Docket ID No. NHTSA-2010-0134.