It’s back-to-school time, and kids aren’t the only ones facing the prospect of letter grades; your car is, too.
As auto regulators prepare to revamp fuel economy stickers to reflect new hybrid and electric vehicles, the Obama administration is proposing to simplify the new label by passing out grades ranging from “A” to “D” based on fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions.
The current stickers are 34 years old, and most agree that they’re in need of updating. In fact, some updates are required by a 2007 energy law. But the grades aren’t required, and opponents to the proposed letter grades include the 17,000-member National Automobile Dealers Association. In a statement, the group said that the new system proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to start in the 2012 model year would “confuse the buying public, make vehicle purchasing decisions more difficult or treat certain automakers or fuel types unfairly.”
Under the proposed new sticker system, the only cars that would receive “A” grades would be electrics and plug-in hybrids; many compact and midsize vehicles would get Bs, and bigger models such as sport-utility vehicles and pickup trucks would get Cs or C-minuses because they burn more petroleum and pump out more carbon dioxide.
A similar system is used in the United Kingdom, but unlike UK-graded cars, your US car couldn’t flunk.
What kind of label would you like to see? Is the letter grade system simpler and therefore likely to be more effective? Or is it going too far?