New Vehicle Labels:
Help or Hindrance?
They’re meant to clear things up and make consumers more aware.
But not everyone is convinced the recently unveiled label designs for new vehicles will truly help consumers make better decisions on future purchases, or if they will simply cause confusion.
In August, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) proposed two new designs for car labels. One prominently displays the vehicle’s environmental grade using a letter-grading scale from A+ to D. The other doesn’t use letter grades but provides more detailed fuel efficiency information.
Both stickers expand on vehicle information already on these labels by indicating fuel consumption, tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions and smog-related emissions.
With these new labels, the EPA and DOT want to provide consumers with easy-to-understand and straightforward energy and environmental comparisons for all types of vehicles. This includes electric, plug-in hybrid electric and conventional gasoline-powered vehicles.
"New fuel economy labels will keep pace with the new generation of fuel-efficient cars and trucks rolling off the line, and provide simple, straightforward updates to inform consumers about their choices in a rapidly changing market," said Lisa P. Jackson, EPA administrator. "We want to help buyers find vehicles that meet their needs, keep the air clean and save money at the pump."
Some interest groups are happy to see the newly suggested labels. "These proposed new labels will make it much easier for consumers to comparison shop," said Vickie Patton, general counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund.
Some consumers, however, find the new labels confusing. A recent Siegel+Gale survey concluded the proposed label may provide too much information. The survey, which polled 456 U.S. residents 18 and older who planned to purchase a car in the next three years, found that 47% said they thought the labels were confusing. Another 38% said they were confused by at least some of the information available on the second proposed design.
Additionally, the survey found that today’s vehicle buyers want to know a vehicle’s fuel efficiency and how much they’ll need to pay to fill their tanks. They don’t seem as concerned about the money that could be saved with a more fuel-efficient vehicle over the long haul or the car’s tailpipe emissions.
"New-car buyers might find value in the labels, but my guess is the price will far outweigh any positive environmental label statement," said Richard Davis, a member of International Organization for Standardization Technical Advisory Group 207, which deals with environmental management standards.
Looking at the big picture, however, Davis thinks the new labeling is a good idea. "If their labeling scheme includes enough relevant metrics for environmental concerns, then why wouldn’t it be a good idea?" Davis asked.
Lou Ann Lathrop, an ASQ board member and former chair of the ASQ Automotive Division, said adding the carbon dioxide tailpipe-only number is good information; it already exists and is good environmental data for those concerned about the emission numbers. "It might even help change perceptions regarding diesel engines," she said.
But Lathrop isn’t convinced the new labels are the right move. "It’s adding work and cost for the EPA and also for car companies," she said. "Looking at the current label and the two proposed, I would try to minimize changes in size to the label to avoid additional tooling costs for all companies."
After announcing the two new designs, the EPA and DOT asked for public comment on the labels. Moving forward, the agencies said they wanted to have new labels on as many 2012 vehicle models as possible.
—Nicole Adrian, contributing editor
- Hill, Adriene, "Should Cars Get Grades on Fuel Economy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions? Would a Grade Make You Think Differently About Buying a New Car?" American Public Media, www.publicradio.org/columns/marketplace/sustainability-answers/2010/08/should-cars-get-grades-on-fuel-economy-and-greenhouse-gas-emissions-would-a-grade-make-you-think-dif.html, Aug. 30, 2010.
- Hincha-Ownby, Melissa, "Consumers Confused by Proposed EPA Car Labels," Mother Nature Network, www.mnn.com/transportation/cars/stories/consumers-confused-by-proposed-epa-car-labels, Sept. 28, 2010.
- United States Environmental Protection Agency, "DOT Proposes New Fuel
Economy Labels/Agencies Seek Public Comment on the Most Dramatic Overhaul in
the Label’s 30-Year History," http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/
d0cf6618525a9efb85257359003fb69d/3e81f1a05b99507f8525778f00523a8c!opendocument, Aug. 30, 2010.
Survey: Many Unhappy
With Outsourcing Providers
Strengthening process management is the No. 1 way business process outsourcing (BPO) providers can improve their service offerings, according to a new ASQ survey.
The survey also showed that 55% of companies using BPO providers are dissatisfied with their providers’ offerings in the areas of innovation and making process improvements. Respondents indicated they thought the following points would improve satisfaction with their BPO providers:
- Better communication flow.
- Better staff training to avoid turnover problems.
- Implementation or upgrading of quality processes to improve service.
- Allowing for more innovation and creativity.
- More efficiently meeting expectations and deadlines.
"While low cost gets a provider in the door, it’s clear that those who innovate and provide best-in-class core processes that deliver superior value will be positioned for long-term success," said Jean Harvey, ASQ business process outsourcing expert and author of Complex Service Delivery Processes, published this month by ASQ Quality Press.
For more information about the survey, visit http://www.asq.org/media-room/press-releases/2010/20101028-bpo-providers-fall-short-on-service.html. For more details about Harvey’s book, visit http://asq.org/quality-press/display-item/index.html?item=H1402.
Leery About Adding Workers
Only 18% of U.S. manufacturers plan to increase hiring in the next six months, and 22% plan to decrease hiring, according to a national survey of CFOs and comptrollers of manufacturing companies.
Grant Thornton’s survey of 99 executives showed that the majority—79%—also said they believed the U.S. economy will not recover until the second half of 2011 or later, and that the best way to create jobs is to cut corporate and personal tax rates. The survey was conducted before the Nov. 2 elections.
"These findings are consistent with what we have been hearing from our manufacturing clients," said Walter Gruenes of Grant Thornton, an audit, tax and consulting organization. "The indecision stemming from a weak economy and the unknown impact of governmental tax policy and new healthcare, labor and environmental regulation on business and individuals is causing paralysis as it relates to major business decisions such as expansion, expenditures and hiring."
For more survey results, visit www.grantthornton.com.
Standards Survey Goes Live
International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) technical committee 176 subcommittee 2 (ISO/TC176/SC2) completed its amendment to ISO 9001 in 2008 and its revision to ISO 9004 in 2009. Now, it wants to hear from you.
The subcommittee has developed a survey to gather opinions from users and potential users of the ISO 9000 standards to determine whether the amendments and related standards in the ISO 9000 family should be revised again, and what any future revisions should contain.
The subcommittee considers the feedback as vital input to helping shape the decisions that ISO/TC176/SC2 will make on these issues that will affect all certified organizations and others seeking certification.
Visit www.iso.org/tc176/sc2/iso9000usersurvey to access the survey, which should take about 30 minutes to complete. The survey will be open through the end of January 2011.
Menlo CEO Headlines Lean Six Sigma Event
Richard Sheridan, CEO of Menlo Innovations, one of the 500 fastest growing companies in the United States, according to Inc. magazine, will be a speaker at this year’s ASQ Lean and Six Sigma Conference Feb. 28-March 1 in Phoenix.
Sheridan, who has been featured in Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, joins Lynn Kelly, vice president of operational excellence at Textron Inc.; Adil Dalal, CEO of Pinnacle Process Solutions; and Alexander Eksir, vice president of Raytheon’s Integrated Defense Systems business unit as keynote speakers at the annual event.
Full program and session descriptions can be found at http://asq.org/conferences/six-sigma/index.html.
DATE IN QUALITY HISTORY
QP looks back on a person or event that made a difference in the history of quality.
Dec. 29, 1986
William G. Hunter, a statistician and cofounder of the Center for Quality and Productivity Improvement in Madison, WI, died of cancer on this date.
Hunter was born on March 27, 1937, in Buffalo, NY, and received degrees from Princeton and the University of Illinois. He was the first doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s statistics department to study with George E.P. Box, and he later contributed to Statistics for Experimenters.
Hunter was the Center for Quality and Productivity Improvement’s first director and is credited with being a leader in the quality movement in Madison, encouraging the city to adopt the W. Edwards Deming system of profound knowledge and other related ideas. He contributed to Deming’s Out of the Crisis, relating how Madison applied Deming’s ideas to the public sector.
Hunter was also the founding chairman of ASQ’s Statistics Division. After his death, the division established a scholarship in his name.
- ASQ Statistics Division newsletter, "Bill Hunter in Memoriam," Spring, 1988, www.asqstatdiv.org/documents/newsletters/Vol%208%20No%2011%20Spring%201988.PDF#page=5.
- John Hunter, "The Life and Legacy of William G. Hunter," http://williamghunter.net.
- George E.P. Box, "William G. Hunter: An Innovator and Catalyst for Quality Improvement," Center for Quality and Improvement, University of Wisconsin, June 1993, http://cqpi.engr.wisc.edu/system/files/r100.pdf.
SR STANDARD READY ISO 26000, the new international social responsibility (SR) standard, is now available for purchase from ASQ. The standard focuses on seven key aspects of SR and what organizations can do to implement an SR program. The standard costs $193 and is available at http://asq.org/quality-press/display-item/index.html?item=T866E.
REFERRAL PROGRAM ASQ has unveiled a new member referral program called Refer & Reward, which allows members to earn points for each new and renewing member referral. Details on the program can be found at www.asq.org/referandreward.
NEW EDITORS NAMED Mark Paulk has been named editor of Software Quality Professional. Paulk, is a senior systems scientist at the Institute for Software Research at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. In addition, Connie Borror has been named editor of Quality Engineering. Borror is a professor in the division of mathematics and natural sciences at Arizona State University in Tempe.
BOOKS GO ELECTRONIC For the first time, several ASQ Quality Press books are available in Amazon’s Kindle and Apple’s iTunes stores. The three books are: The Quality Toolbox, second edition; ISO Lesson Guide 2008: Pocket Guide to ISO 9001:2008, third edition; and Making Change Work: Practical Tools for Overcoming Human Resistance to Change. More ASQ Quality Press titles will be added to the online stores in coming months.
BALDRIGE UPDATE The Baldrige National Quality Program has been renamed the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program. The name of the award, however, remains the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Because of incorrect information supplied to QP, it was erroneously reported in November’s issue ("Program, Award Renamed to Emphasize Excellence," p. 11) that the award’s name had changed.
Who’s Who in Q
NAME: Kevin Quigg.
RESIDENCE: Carol Stream, IL.
EDUCATION: MBA from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago.
QUALITY: Quigg’s father was a section manager in quality assurance at
Goodrich Tire Co. and helped Quigg get a job implementing statistical process control at the company’s facility in Eau Claire, WI.
CURRENT JOB: Quality process manager at Temple-Inland’s Carol Stream box plant. Temple-Inland is an integrated paper packaging company.
PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE: Quigg has worked in three different industrial settings, including the rubber and paper industries. In the packaging industry, Quigg travels to customers in other industries to learn how things are made, such as antifreeze, croissants, foam plates and straws.
ASQ ACTIVITIES: Newsletter editor for six years for the Fox Valley 1208 Section.
OTHER ACTIVITIES: Quigg loves to travel and has visited 63 countries. He wishes he had more time to travel. He met his wife while traveling.
RECENT HONOR: Recognized as one of 11 ASQ members who holds 14 of 18 ASQ certifications.
FAMILY: Married to Gloria for eight years. One daughter, Yuxara.
FAVORITE WAYS TO RELAX: Reads history and political science books and has posted more than 1,000 book reviews on Amazon.com.
QUALITY QUOTE: I am surprised that quality is not better understood. Quality improvement efforts are daily struggles that require hard work and team effort to overcome.
QP ONLINE ON PAPER
Quick Poll Results
Each month at www.qualityprogress.com, visitors can take an informal survey, and we post the results.
Here are the numbers from a recent Quick Poll:
"Quality newcomers don’t always have the basics down. What important basic knowledge is most often missing in a quality newcomer’s tool box?"
- Statistics 26.4%
- Tools and methods 25.6%
- History of quality 21.6%
- Management philosophies 18.4%
- Standards and auditing 8%
Visit www.qualityprogress.com for the most recent poll question:"How do you plan to develop professionally in 2011?"
- ASQ or other professional conferences
- Courses at college/university
- Webinars on quality topics