EPA Ditches Letter Grade MPG Ratings, Puts $$ Up Front

I think we can all agree that nobody wants to be reminded of high school when trying to determine the fuel efficiency of a new car. Thankfully the EPA has yanked the letter grades and replaced it with dollar signs.

The new mpg system will be applied to all 2013 model year cars. Before I go further, I will say that the EPA has quite the task ahead of them, trying to figure out a ratings system that fits a variety of new cars and technologies, from pure electrics extended-range plug-in hybrids to mild hybrids. Not an easy task to be sure, and such information can only be presented a certain way as to remain objective. The letter grading system was not objective, no matter which way you cut it. It was just an awful idea from beginning to end, and if you really want to sell green, you’ve got to put the cost savings up front and center.

The new rating system provides several critical information points up front and center, including how far a full charge is estimated to take you, how long the battery takes to charge and, most importantly, how much money this car will save you compared to the “average” car. I took a look at the fine print, which says that the formula will be based on fuel price projections put out by the U.S. Energy Information Administration every year and a 15,000 miles of driving annually. It also will include an app and smartphone scanner so you can compare one car to another.

What I don’t agree with the inclusion of are the smog tailpipe ratings. As is often argued, the “true” cleanliness of an electric vehicle depends largely on where the electricity comes from. I also feel like it is the least important bit of information on the sticker. Yes, it is great going green and saving the planet Earth…but realistically, most people want to just save money. Which is why I like the new EPA ratings sticker (for the most part.) I wonder though, does it go the other way too? As in, if I buy a car with below-average fuel economy, will the sticker tell me how much more money this car will cost me?

So anyway, I am a fan, but what do you guys think?

Source: Fueleconomy.gov

Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs. You can read about his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout or follow his non-nonsensical ramblings on Twitter @harshcougar.

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.