Old Car, New Label: Design, Mobile, EPA and the DOT

What with the two kids, the dog and all the stuff–theirs and ours–that typically accompanies us when we head out on the road, our 2005 Toyota Matrix sure has shrunk quite a bit since we bought it as “the biggest family car we could ever possibly want/need.”

So at times Catherine and I have played the “What’s our next family car?” game. Honda Element? Toyota CRV? Flat out, bona-fide minivan? See the trend? My erstwhile dreams about that Vespa or a sprightly little Mini Cooper are simply out of the question.

We’re not actually looking for a new car. But if we were, the new fuel economy labels the US Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency launched this summer are supposed to have made our purchasing decisions more informed.

EPA-DOT-car-labelGone are the mpg-only labels. Now from the car lot we’ll also be able to look at pollutant output and better gauge fuel savings. Most intriguing, as described further in this article from USA Today, is a QR Code.

The code in the sample above takes you to the mobile site where the US government provides detailed information about fuel economy. Specifically, it links over to a detailed summary of the new car fuel economy labels and what the different sections mean. But were we to have scanned the code from the car lot, off of an actual car, we would have been taken to a calculator that would have let us calculate exact mileage costs for the specific car model in question based on personalized commute information we would have been able to input with our phones.

Nice use of design to update the labels. Nice use of QR codes that actually offer a functional benefit.

Nice way to get me dreaming again about that Element. Or maybe a Nissan Cube?