Bay Area Traffic

New stickers make car shopping easier

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Comparison shopping for a new car is about to get easier.

The Environmental Protection Agency unveiled new fuel economy labels that will be displayed on all new cars, that simplify environmental and financial impacts.

Soaring gasoline prices provide the perfect backdrop for a first look at new federal fuel economy and environmental impact labels.

"We need to show American consumers how they can save money," Jared Blumenfeld with the EPA says. "This label does that."

Current California labels show only fuel economy and an environmental rating for the car they're on. Now labels will compare the car against an average new vehicle.

The new labels also help simplify comparisons across the many different classes: Gas, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric.

For instance, a gas guzzler that gets an average of 11 miles per gallon shows you'd spend $14,400 more in fuel over five years than with an average new vehicle, while an all-electric car label at 99 miles per gallon shows a fuel savings of $9,600.

The figures are all based on national averages but are extremely useful for comparison's sake.

"There were people who thought we ought to have a grade (of) A through F," Blumenfeld said, "but what we came up with is a common sense approach that moves us in the right direction toward more efficiency."

Palo Alto-based Tesla Motors is among those who'd prefer a letter grade. Tesla sold 1,600 of its $100,000 electric roadsters, but its hoping to tap a larger market next year with the more practical mode: l s sedan at half the price.

Tesla helped develop the new federal labels.

"We would have loved to get an A," Diarmuid O'Connell with Tesla said. "we did like the other label. Who wouldn't want to get an a? But we believe the comparative consumption metric that is being introduced here is going to be very useful."

The labels are currently voluntary but will be required on 2013 models hitting showrooms next year.

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gas prices, environmental protection agency, tesla, burlingame, bay area traffic, heather ishimaru
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