Fuel Efficiency Classification: new window labels may come on for all cars
The federal government has unveiled its proposal for the most significant overhaul of cars’ fuel economy labels in 30 years. The Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation have put together two options for window stickers in new vehicles starting with 2012 model year, including one label with a letter grade system ranging from A+ to D based on greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy.
The system, which is still a work in progress and open to public comment, would give high marks to plug-in and hybrid vehicles, and could affect how car shoppers perceive the relative costs and benefits of different technologies and models for years to come. “American consumers are quickly accepting advanced technology vehicles,” said National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Administrator David Strickland in a call with reporters today. “Old petroleum-centric labels just aren’t good enough anymore.”
According to the proposed rule making and federal officials who spoke with reporters today, electric vehicles would typically earn the A+ grade, while plug-in hybrids would generally fall into the A category and hybrids like the Toyota Prius, Ford Fusion Hybrid and Honda Civic Hybrid would earn an A-. Upcoming models like the electric Nissan LEAF and extended-range electric Chevy Volt from General Motors have yet to be certified by the EPA, said EPA Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy, so she could not give a sense of what grade they would get under the proposed rating system.
Applied to 2010 model year vehicles, high performance cars like the Ferrari 612 Scaglietti and Mercedes-Benz Maybach 57 would bring up the rear with D+ and D letter grades, based on more than 689 grams of CO2 emissions per mile and fuel efficiency equivalent to 13 MPG or less.
McCarthy explained that grades would be distributed across “a pretty standard bell curve,” with a B- as the median. Vehicles would be compared with all models in that year’s fleet, rather than having SUVs compete only against other SUVs, for example. There would be no failing grade, McCarthy said, because only cars that comply with the Clean Air Act can be sold.