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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: Total Cost
By Schrag4 on 8/30/2010 5:59:16 PM , Rating: 2
That sounds great, but not everyone drives the same distance per year. Not only that, but even driving habits like how you accelerate or brake can have a huge difference on how much fuel you use.

What I'm getting at is that it's up to the consumer to figure out the total cost. I know, simple math like a + (b * c) is super-hard, but you can do it!

Actually, instead of a single total cost, they could have a chart that breaks it down by miles driven per year. That would make you happy I guess...

RE: Total Cost
By Spuke on 8/30/2010 6:14:45 PM , Rating: 5
Does anyone, including DTers, even read any of that stuff? I already know what I'm getting into before I even show up at the lot and 70% of the time, I'm schooling the salesman. IMO, if people weren't reading the information before, they sure as hell aren't going to read MORE of it now.

RE: Total Cost
By tastyratz on 8/30/2010 11:44:29 PM , Rating: 2
Thats why we have epa estimates, its supposed to simulate average driving conditions. While most drivers will not approach the epa numbers and some will exceed it a baseline provides numbers to compare.

Now the interesting thing? The price of gasoline fluctuates incredibly - How are they going to handle that?

RE: Total Cost
By Lerianis on 8/31/2010 12:55:52 AM , Rating: 2
Point to the man above. Seriously, the gas prices are fluctuating so badly (and are so high) in a DEPRESSION that.... I am thinking honestly that the price is being that little M-word... manipulated.

RE: Total Cost
By jimbojimbo on 8/31/2010 11:40:32 AM , Rating: 2
Also, some places haver pretty cheap electricity and expensive gas, or expensive electricity and cheap gas. This is a huge factor in the overall cost.

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