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Sierra Daily

Aug 30, 2010

Your Reaction May Vary

Will your new car make the grade? Today the EPA proposed revised window stickers for new cars that would give consumers thorough information on the environmental impacts and fuel consumption of any new vehicle.

One proposal grades vehicles from A+ to D, assessing them for fuel economy, greenhouse gases, and smog-forming pollutants. Because the grading system would compare a vehicle to all others on the market (rather than to other vehicles in its immediate category, such as “humongous SUVs”) high marks won't be earned easily.

The highest grade, A+, would go to “zero emission” electric cars with fuel economy equivalent to 117 miles per gallon and higher. Plug-in hybrid electric cars (59 to 116 m.p.g. equivalent) would get an A. Your do-good Prius hybrid? An A-minus. The EPA says that if 2010 SUVs were rated under the proposed system, only 8 would attain a grade of B+, while 68 would earn a Gentleman’s C. (No vehicles would receive an F, the EPA explains, because they all must meet strict minimum standards to be sold in the U.S.)

A second proposal covers much the same territory but without the glaring Hester Prynne stamp of disapproval. 

The auto industry is critical of the grading system. And don’t think that’s because automakers are afraid to put the environmental and fuel-consumption failings of their products front and center. That’s not it at all. They simply want to spare consumers’ feelings. Dave McCurdy, president and chief executive of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers Manufacturers, which represents 11 automakers, told the New York Times that the rating system “falls short because it is imbued with school-yard memories of passing and failing.”

The revised stickers will go into effect in 2012. You can tell the EPA what you think of the proposals here.


 --Reed McManus

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