In 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a significant redesign to new-car fuel economy labels debuting on 2013 model-year vehicles. The new labels have easier-to-read ratings, make the combined mpg figures more prominent and have alternate versions for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Another change is the use of a Quick Response (QR) code — one of the more forward-looking features on the label and a nod to the ubiquity of smartphones.
If you haven't encountered a QR code yet, it looks like a pixelated bar code. and once you aim your smartphone at it, you're linked to a certain Web page. To make use of QR codes, you need to download a QR reader application. They're usually free and you can find them at your phone's app store or marketplace. In the case of the QR code on the EPA label, the link takes you to the mobile version of the fueleconomy.gov Web site. The vehicle that you just scanned will appear in the phone's Web browser, along with a host of information about it.