• Chevy customers show interest in environmental impact
  • Ecologic label provides environmental scorecard
  • Explains fuel-saving technology

Good fuel economy remains an important quality for new-car shoppers, but vehicles' broader environmental impacts are increasingly important to those browsing dealer showrooms. The Chevrolet Ecologic label helps by explaining not only fuel efficiency technologies but also sustainable and environmentally responsible manufacturing practices and recyclability.

The Ecologic label is the first of its kind -- an independently audited scorecard of a vehicle's green credentials -- and is attached to every new 2013 Chevrolet sold in the United States.

It's not just hybrid or electric vehicle shoppers who are looking for green vehicles. Among customers for its conventional gasoline-powered Malibu sedan, for example, Chevrolet says 63 percent ranked "environmental friendliness" as "extremely" or "very important" reasons for purchase. For the 37-mpg Malibu Eco, that figure jumps to 78 percent.

The Ecologic label explains what steps Chevy has taken to reduce a given model's environmental impact. That information is collected and audited independently by Two Tomorrows, a corporate sustainability agency.

The label is divided into three sections: Fuel-Saving Technologies, Responsible Manufacturing and End-of-Life Recyclability. The first section is largely focused on powertrain features. For the Malibu, the Ecologic label explains engine technologies such as variable valve timing and direct fuel injection, which help to conserve fuel and reduce emissions. It also lists the Malibu's 6-speed automatic transmission and lightweight materials as contributors to fuel efficiency.

The second section of the Malibu's Ecologic label explains how Chevy reduces environmental impacts in manufacturing. Some plants that build parts for the Malibu are zero-landfill facilities, meaning all waste is reused, recycled or converted to energy. The Fairfax Assembly Plant that builds most Malibus recycles 91 percent of its daily waste and is recognized for recycling and reducing energy use.

Finally, the label lists the recyclability of a vehicle at the end of its usable life. In the case of the Malibu, the Ecologic label claims that 85 percent of the vehicle is recyclable, or readily converted into raw materials for new products.

While the Chevrolet Ecologic label allows Chevy shoppers to examine a vehicle's green credentials, no uniform standards now exist to compare models from different automakers. Environmental Protection Agency ratings of fuel economy and emissions are listed on every new-car window sticker, but fuel efficiency only represents part of a vehicle's environmental impact. As drivers increasingly shop for responsible automotive choices, expect more manufacturers to follow Chevy's lead and provide in-depth details about their vehicles' green features.

What it means to you: New-car shoppers can learn more about a new vehicle's environmental impact with the Ecologic label included on every 2013 Chevrolet model.

author photo

Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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