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The EPA's 2008 sticker design (click to enlarge).  (Source: EPA/DOT)

One of the new sticker designs.  (Source: EPA/DOT)

The other proposed new sticker design.  (Source: EPA/DOT)
Sticker is one of two proposed designs, each with new information to help consumers choose their next vehicle

Spiking oil prices in the 1970s inspired the U.S. Congress to pass the Energy Tax Act of 1978, a phased in tax that hits people who buy inefficient vehicles.  Around the same time Congress also mandated that the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation put fuel efficiency labels on all new cars sold at dealerships in the U.S.  Those stickers became a familiar, relatively unchanging sight over the next 30 years.

Starting in 2008, the stickers underwent their first big overhaul.  Today, with new types of automobiles like plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and battery electric vehicles preparing to hit the market, the DOT and EPA are looking to roll out yet another shakeup to the dealership sticker design. 

The government organizations aired two alternative designs for labels today.  The first design more closely resembles the 2008 label and its contents.  It adds several additional statistics, as well -- offering metrics on CO2 emissions (in g/mile from the tailpipe), "other emissions" (on a 1 to 10 scale, 10 being the best possible), how many gallons are used every 100 miles, how the vehicle compares fuel economy-wise with other vehicles in its class, and how the vehicle compares to all other vehicles (including those outside its class) in fuel economy.

The second design is a more radical redesign offering a letter grade to the vehicle in terms of fuel economy.  According to the EPA/DOT proposal page shows a battery electric vehicles getting an "A+", a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle receiving an "A", a compressed natural gas vehicle getting an "A-", and a "flexible fuel" (ethanol-ready) vehicle receiving a "B".  The page insists, though:

Please note that these labels are examples and do not represent real automobiles. 

Thus, it is unclear whether these labels are indicative to what kind of letter grades the actual vehicles in these classes would succeed.  Interestingly, there's no room for failure under the new system.  The worst rating one can get is a "D".

The design bumps the average yearly cost of fuel to a text subnote and instead emphasizes the amount the vehicle "saves" per year, "compared to the average vehicle".  It also bumps the note on how the vehicle stacks up within its class to a text subnote.

Both labels feature special QR Codes that allow smartphones to pull up additional info on fuel efficiency and the model.  Both labels also include special "effective MPG" ratings, to encompass electric vehicle performance.  Electric vehicles have their costs tallied as an "Annual Electric Cost".

The first sticker also includes, for the first time, a short disclaimer on how the fuel costs are calculated (a gas price of $2.80 USD is assumed in the sticker shown).  The letter-grade sticker doesn't include the disclaimer, though both stickers remind customers to go to to learn more on the topic.

The EPA is seeking public comment on both designs, in order to decide which to adopt.  You can leave your thoughts, comments, criticism, and suggestions here.

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RE: Since We're Adopting School Methods
By invidious on 8/30/2010 5:53:37 PM , Rating: 0
A) Most hybrids have a warranty that cover hybrid components for 8 years/100k miles
My younger brother is using a 1991 camry as a high school car, that would have had to have its batteries replaced twice by now...
B) The Prius has seen commercial use as cabs- there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the batteries will last over 10 years without being replaced
What evidence? How does future contracts for cab use equate to evidence? Faith is for religion, stick to science when trying to argue please.
C) Some hybrids have modular battery cells, you can replace the dead ones while keeping the good ones, reducing replacement costs.
Correction, spreading out the replacement costs. And no doubt increasing the total cost as you are no longer buying in bulk.

I will get my facts about battery life from a non-biased source. "" is clearly not such a source.

I am not saying hybrids are bad, just that they are not ready . If they were then they would not need government subsidies.

RE: Since We're Adopting School Methods
By chmilz on 8/30/2010 6:25:44 PM , Rating: 2
They're ready just fine. Only the US subsidizes them. Hybrids sell great in Canada (and most other countries) with no subsidies.

Don't blame hybrids for your inept government's decisions.

By Spuke on 8/30/2010 6:37:46 PM , Rating: 2
Hybrids sell great in Canada (and most other countries) with no subsidies.
The market in Canada is not the US market. I agree, it's still an inept government.

RE: Since We're Adopting School Methods
By Lerianis on 8/31/2010 12:53:52 AM , Rating: 2
With all due respect, hybrids and electric-only's are as ready as they are ever going to be.

Sure, they need to get the mileage up for electrics, but for the AVERAGE PERSON who goes no farther than 20 miles to/from their home? They are fine for that person.

I should also bring up that there are numerous OTHER things that an electric only will not need, such as: oil changes, major engine repairs, etc. because there are electric motors ON EACH WHEEL in most of them.

So, think about that? You have to have a car's engine totally REBUILT about every 10 years at a cost of 5K or more... I think the electric car will be CHEAPER for maintenance when it comes down to it.

Not to MENTION that the batteries prices will come down in the future as the battery tech gets better.

By MrBlastman on 8/31/2010 9:49:28 AM , Rating: 2
So, think about that? You have to have a car's engine totally REBUILT about every 10 years at a cost of 5K or more... I think the electric car will be CHEAPER for maintenance when it comes down to it.

What a bunch of hogwash. If you don't maintain your car, then yes, you will have to have it rebuilt, and more than likely sooner. BUT... If you _change_ the oil every 3000 miles (5000 w/synthetic), change the tranny fluid every so often (and don't flush the crap into the filter, clogging it), your engine and tranny will last far longer than that.

Much longer, actually. Heck, they might even last you the life of the car (which could be 15-20+ years). They might even get you over 250-350k miles.

For what? A few bucks for a new oil filter every so often, some money for oil and an hour of your time.

Not to MENTION that the batteries prices will come down in the future as the battery tech gets better.

While this might hold true for a while, the resource they are banking on--Lithium, is not an extremely abundant element and most of the remaining reserves are in two countries we don't have control over, one is run by a dictatorship that hates us (Bolivia) and the other has a Muslim regime trying to take control of it (Afghanistan). I guarantee you, through economics, the price of lithium very well may go through the roof.

"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke

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