Law & Order

Government Proposes New Fuel Economy Labels for New Cars

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) intend to expand the mileage rating information contained on a new-car window label. The regulators want to make this information more evident by including graphics, increasing type size and providing CO2 emissions information. In this fashion, buyers may focus more attention on these issues when considering a new-car purchase.

SEMA is reviewing options proposed by the two agencies. There is concern the regulators have not presented a balanced approach. For example, the program does not compare one SUV to another but instead compares cars against the full range of models. Consequently, compact cars generally get high ratings while pickups and SUVs are at the other end of the scale. This is of limited value to a consumer who needs an SUV and wants to compare cars in the same size class. Additionally, a proposed “A–F” letter grading system is likely too simplistic to provide value. When selecting a new car, consumers must also balance other window-label information regarding the vehicle’s front and side crashworthiness and rollover propensity.

The rule would only apply to new cars and light-duty trucks in the dealerships beginning in model year 2012. It would not apply to used cars or new medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. For more information, contact Stuart Gosswein at