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Guide Concerning Fuel Economy Advertising for New Automobiles

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

Guide Concerning Fuel Economy Advertising for New Automobiles

Donald S. Clark
Federal Register
June 1, 2011

[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 105 (Wednesday, June 1, 2011)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 31467-31468]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-13519]



16 CFR Part 259

Guide Concerning Fuel Economy Advertising for New Automobiles

AGENCY: Federal Trade Commission.

ACTION: Postponement of amendment of guide.


SUMMARY: The Federal Trade Commission (``FTC'' or ``Commission'') gives 
notice that it is postponing any amendments to its Guide Concerning 
Fuel Economy Advertising for New Automobiles (``Fuel Economy Guide'' or 
``Guide'') pending completion of ongoing review by the Environmental 
Protection Agency (``EPA'') and the National Highway Traffic Safety 
Administration (``NHTSA'') of current fuel economy labeling 
requirements and the Commission's accelerated regulatory review of its 
own Labeling Requirements for Alternative Fuels and Alternative Fueled 
Vehicles Rule (``Alternative Fuels Rule'').

DATES: This action is effective as of June 1, 2011.

ADDRESSES: Requests for copies of this notice should be sent to the 
Consumer Response Center, Room 113, Federal Trade Commission, 600 
Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20580. The notice is also 
available on the Internet at the Commission's Web site, http://www.ftc.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Hampton Newsome at (202) 326-2889, 
Attorney, Division of Enforcement, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 
Federal Trade Commission, Washington, DC 20580.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Commission adopted the Fuel Economy 
Guide \1\ in 1975 to prevent deceptive fuel economy advertising for new 
automobiles and to facilitate the use of fuel economy information in 
such advertising. The Guide helps advertisers of new automobiles avoid 
making unfair or deceptive claims.\2\ To accomplish this goal, the Fuel 
Economy Guide advises marketers to disclose established fuel economy 
estimates (e.g.,

[[Page 31468]]

miles per gallon or ``mpg'') as determined by the mandatory EPA testing 
protocols. If advertisers make fuel economy claims based on non-EPA 
tests, the Guide directs them to disclose EPA-derived fuel economy 
information with substantially more prominence than other estimates \3\ 
and provide details about the non-EPA tests such as the source of the 
test, driving conditions, and vehicle configurations.

    \1\ 16 CFR part 259.
    \2\ The Commission issues industry guides, such as the Fuel 
Economy Guide, to help marketers avoid making advertising claims 
that are unfair or deceptive under Section 5 of the FTC Act, 15 
U.S.C. 45. Guides such as these are administrative interpretations 
of the law. Therefore, they do not have the force and effect of law 
and are not independently enforceable. The Commission, however, can 
take action under the FTC Act if a marketer makes a fuel economy 
claim inconsistent with the Guide. In any such enforcement action, 
the Commission must prove that the challenged act or practice is 
unfair or deceptive.
    \3\ For audio advertisements, EPA fuel economy estimates must be 
given equal prominence as non-EPA estimates. 16 CFR 259.2(c)(1).

    On April 28, 2009,\4\ the Commission published a Notice of Proposed 
Rulemaking (``NPRM'') soliciting comments on proposed amendments to the 
Guide. The Commission's proposed revisions to the Guide included: (1) 
updating the Guide's definitions and guidance to reflect the new 
``combined'' fuel economy estimates established by the EPA's fuel 
economy labeling requirements; and (2) extending advertising guidance 
to alternative fueled vehicles based on the Commission's Alternative 
Fuels Rule.\5\ The Commission received eight comments from sources 
including the automobile manufacturing industry, local government, and 
consumers groups.\6\ Generally, the comments supported retaining the 
Guide and recognized its benefits. Several, however, noted 
inconsistencies between calculations and standards found in the FTC's 
Alternative Fuels Rule and those established by the EPA's fuel economy 
labeling requirements.\7\

    \4\ 74 FR 19148.
    \5\ 16 CFR Part 309.
    \6\ Comments are available at: http://www.ftc.gov/os/comments/fueleconadguidepropamend/index.shtm.
    \7\ 40 CFR Part 600, subpart D.

    On September 28, 2009, during the course of the Commission's 
regulatory review for the Guide, EPA and NHTSA announced their 
``Proposed Rulemaking To Establish Light-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas 
Emission Standards and Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards.'' \8\ 
In that Federal Register Notice, the EPA and the NHTSA announced the 
creation of a ``National Program * * * to reduce greenhouse gas 
emission and to improve fuel economy.'' \9\ To fulfill the statutory 
requirements of the Energy Independence and Security Act \10\ and to 
conform with the goals of the National Program, the agencies are 
developing labels that ``reflect fuel economy and greenhouse gas and 
other emissions * * * [and also include] a rating system that would 
make it easy for consumers to compare the fuel economy and greenhouse 
gas and other emissions of automobiles at the point of purchase.'' \11\ 
In addition, the agencies proposed creating their own label for 
alternative fueled vehicles, and solicited comment on proposed label 
formats in September 2010.\12\

    \8\ 74 FR 49454 (Sep. 28, 2009).
    \9\ Id.
    \10\ Public Law 110-140.
    \11\ 74 FR at 49739.
    \12\ 75 FR 58078 (Sept. 23, 2010).

    The EPA's proposed rulemaking impacts both the Commission's 
Alternative Fuels Rule and its Fuel Economy Guide. That rulemaking will 
increase the coverage of EPA's new fuel economy labels to include 
alternative fueled vehicles, many of which would also have additional 
labeling requirements under the existing Alternative Fuels Rule. 
Therefore, in a separate notice published today, the Commission is 
accelerating its review of the Alternative Fuels Rule to reduce the 
potential for conflicting or redundant labeling requirements. The 
result of the Commission's review also may affect the guidance that the 
Commission would issue to new vehicle advertisers in the FTC's Fuel 
Economy Guide. Therefore, the Commission has determined that it would 
be premature to publish amended guidance concerning fuel economy 
advertising until the EPA and the NHTSA conclude their regulatory 
reviews and the Commission completes its Regulatory Review of the 
Alternative Fuels Rule. The Commission continues to believe that 
guidance in this area would be beneficial but recognizes the value in 
issuing consistent government guidance.

    By direction of the Commission.
Donald S. Clark,
[FR Doc. 2011-13519 Filed 5-31-11; 8:45 am]

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