New EPA Sticker Grades Your Car

The EPA is considering a new fuel economy sticker for new cars and trucks sold in the US that gives consumers more information about their new car’s environmental impact, and they’ve posted an interactive “walk-through”on the EPA website.

More about the new stickers, and why they will spark insane shouting matches, after the jump.

The new labels have been designed to better incorporate new vehicle types, like plug-ins and alt-fuel cars, that many feel can’t be properly represented with the current label.

In addition to providing average fuel economy numbers, the new label would add CO2 and other specific emission information, as well as projected fuel cost savings for hybrid models when compared to conventional versions of similar cars.

More information and an educated customer base is always good news.  Here, however, is where the problem lies… what information is relevant information?  I can think of a few major problems right off the bat:

  1. Emissions and fuel economy are only 2 indicators of environmental responsibility… what about the percentage of recycled materials used in a car’s construction or the overall impact of the car’s construction to begin with?  That seems like good information.
  2. Will the EPA “fuel savings” estimate adjust for the fact that most hybrids cost more than their conventional siblings? Example:  if there is a $3,000 price premium for the hybrid, and the fuel savings work out to $2000 over “x” period of time, will the EPA sticker show “-$1000” as the “fuel savings” number?
  3. What about organically-grown soy vs. conventionally grown soy? Many car-makers use soy products in their cars (Ford, especially – this article is just one example of the company’s dedication to soy-based products) will they get “extra bonus points” towards an “A” letter grade if they use organically-grown soy?
  4. How objective will letter grades be? If they are done objectively, regardless of a car’s “class”, then cars like Corvettes and Vipers will score poorly, but if the only other car in the Viper’s “class” (according to the EPA, which has always been weird about such things) is the Corvette getting an A compared to the Viper’s F?
  5. Can you get an A for effort if the car features some innovative new tech being sold at a loss (like the Volt or 1st Gen Prius)?

Those questions (above) came to me as I typed them, and I am sure there are a dozen or so other good questions that will be lobbied for or against by the car-makers and activists… but, there is hope for some sanity: you can head over to and tell the EPA what you think, directly.

SO, speak now – or forever hold your peace complain and moan in the comments section.


Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, out on two wheels, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.