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Feds want your input in creating new fuel economy labels

By KBB.com Editors on August 31, 2010 5:11 PM
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Under provisions of the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are currently working on developing a new and more consumer-friendly fuel-economy label that will appear on new cars and light trucks sold in America starting with the 2012 model year. This revamp represents the most sweeping change to the fuel-economy label design since it was introduced more than 30 years ago. For the first time ever, the organizations are directly soliciting input on their efforts from vehicle owners across the country.

The new-look documentation will include an even more comprehensive array of comparative infobits aimed at helping buyers assess exactly where the vehicles stack up against their immediate class peers as well as where they fall versus the existing U.S. fleet averages. Along with listing specific fuel consumption and projected annual cost stats, the revised CAFE labels also will present the relative environmental impact associated with the operation of a given vehicle, in greenhouse gases and other pollutants. These enhanced data sheets would cover conventional gasoline and diesel-powered cars and light-duty trucks as well as flex-fuel variants, hybrids, plug-in electrics and pure battery electric-electric models.

Two distinct formats are under consideration for this new fuel-economy window sticker. While both provide the same hard facts, one version takes a bolder graphic treatment that includes a prominent letter grade and color key while the other relies on a series of traditional linear scales. Although official fuel economy ratings for the Nissan LEAF and Chevy Volt have not yet been established, Gina McCarthy, EPA assistant administrator, stated that pure electric vehicles in general will receive an "A+" grade while the most egregious gas guzzlers would be saddled with the lowest mark of "D" and the median grade for all vehicles in the fleet would be a "B-."

In a formal statement on the process, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson noted that: "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. We want to help buyers find vehicles that meet their needs, keep the air clean and save them money at the pump."

For the next 60 days, the government is asking for comments and suggestions on the matter from the American motoring public. You can find more information, make your opinions known and cast a vote for the design of your choice by clicking here.

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