U.S. cars and trucks will carry labels comparing estimated five-year fuel costs with those of the average new vehicle following industry opposition to adding fuel-economy letter grades to the window stickers.
The labels, which will include annual fuel-cost estimates, must be affixed to passenger cars and trucks sold in the U.S. starting with model year 2013, the Washington-based Environmental Protection Agency and Transportation Department said in a statement today. The new stickers will rate vehicles on a scale of 1 to 10 for smog and greenhouse-gas emissions.
“These labels will provide consumers with up-front information about a vehicle’s fuel costs and savings so that they can make informed decisions when purchasing a new car,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in the statement.
President Barack Obama’s administration is writing rules to improve fuel economy for cars and trucks that may require annual fuel-efficiency improvements of as much as 7 percent from 2017 to 2025. New vehicles have displayed stickers estimating annual fuel costs as of model year 2008. Before that model year, the labels showed how many miles per gallon a vehicle could get in a city or on a highway.
According to the rule announced today, plug-in hybrids and fully electric vehicles will have labels that specify how far a car can drive when charged.
The government discarded plans for labels with letter grades after automakers, dealers and federal lawmakers said that consumers may avoid vehicles labeled with lower rankings.
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, whose members include General Motors Co. and Toyota Motor Corp., said before the announcement that it would prefer abandoning the A to F letter-grade proposal.
“A large, brightly colored letter grade” may confuse consumers and “risks alienating” those who drive a vehicle that doesn’t receive an A for greenhouse-gas emissions, Wade Newton, a spokesman for the Washington-based group, said in an e-mail.
Environmental groups such the Natural Resources Defense Council, which advocates for higher fuel-economy standards, had supported the letter-grade plan.
The label announced today isn’t “perfect, but it was important to get something out there as soon as possible,” Luke Tonachel, a senior transportation analyst with the New York- based NRDC, said in an interview. “The new label has some important improvements that will help consumers faced with high gas prices find the cleanest, most-efficient vehicles. Importantly, the vehicle you’re looking at is compared with all vehicles in a model year.”
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