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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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By rika13 on 8/31/2010 6:12:05 AM , Rating: 2
The assigning of high marks toward fully electric and rather good ones to E85 vehicles is what Obama wants, not what is good for America. Gotta give Excelon (Ameren/ComEd in Illinois) and ADM those kickbacks or else no more contributions or plane trips.

Fully electric vehicles will put more strain on our already about ready to fall apart grid, meaning more blackouts from failure and rolling blackouts to prevent failure. This means people DIE from heat/cold/no machines (nebulizers, battery based ones that can't be charged, etc.) and others are injured. The use of E85 is already seen as a big joke since the only savings E85 provides are tax credits and when you have to return the rental car with a full tank. The more insidious thing about E85 is it raises food costs as it is made from food. This benefits agribusiness, but has been referred to as a crime against humanity by some in the UN as it raises food prices.

Higher electric bills and higher food costs also play well with the Democrat Party's market as it KEEPS their voting bloc poor. You can't sell hope and change to people who don't need them.

Global Warming is unproven (despite claims it is) and Anthropogenic (man-made) Global Warming even more so. In fact, the Vostok and EPICA ice cores show a constant cycle of slight warming and cooling with CO2 and CH4 increase and decrease over 420,000 years. The Vostok, EPICA, GRIP, and NGRIP cores all show a 5C spike about 20,000 years ago. The GRIP and NGRIP cores show Dansgaard-Oeschger events, 1500 year cycles of sudden climate change, the last of which was about 1500 years ago. The climatologists are constantly revising their model to "explain" things like the increase of glacier sizes, reduction of global temperatures and such, but are quick to point to the reopening of the Arctic shipping lanes as absolute proof of AGW, despite the redirection of the Gulf Stream toward England (used to be pointed at Greenland) dumping warm salt water in that area (as anyone whom lives in a cold area knows, salt kills ice, so does heat)

Despite this, I believe we should push for better vehicles and power plants, but not go for idiocy because it gives donors/bribers kickbacks or because it feels good. We need to find REAL solutions to our problems that don't make more problems or make easily solved ones. Nuclear and middle of nowhere solar power are good choices, as nuclear waste is actually pretty safe if reprocessed correctly and middle of nowhere solar has no problems other than keeping the thing running. Idiotic solutions like kinetic fluid-based (ocean, wind, hydroelectric) power which causes disruption in the natural flow of those currents and harm the lifeforms there (spinning blades of fish/bird doom) and "just add scrubbers" which provides a high cost burden for little gain.

"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller

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