New Car Stickers Include Electric Vehicle Ratings

The federal government announced new car window stickers for vehicles starting with the 2013 model year.  The new stickers include electric vehicles, estimated annual fuel costs and the vehicle’s overall environmental impact for driving 15,000 miles per year. There will be different labels for conventional vehicles, plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles, with cars running solely on battery power estimated to get 99 miles per gallon.
electric car mileage label
Here is an example of how the new sticker works for the Nissan Leaf all electric vehicle.  The Nissan Leaf sticker shows 99 miles per gallon, $561 in annual fuel cost and $7,450 in fuel savings over five years compared to other vehicles in the same class size.  In other words, this electric vehicle will cost just $46 per month in fuel, saving the typical driver about $125 per month in fuel costs compared to an average gas-powered car in the same class.

In addition, the Leaf has the highest rating, 10 out of 10, for fuel economy, greenhouse gas and smog emissions. 

When developing the new sticker, there was some concern that electric car drivers will just be switching one dirty energy source, oil, for another, coal, which produces about 60% of the nation’s electricity.  However, coal is at least a domestic source and does not rely on foreign, potentially hostile oil-producing countries.  Regardless, more people are starting to realize that the best way to power an electric vehicle is with clean solar panels installed at home.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation are jointly responsible for the window sticker program.  “These labels will provide consumers with up-front information about a vehicle’s fuel costs and savings so that they can make informed decisions when purchasing a new car,” said Ray LaHood, the transportation secretary.

The new stickers will for the first time include a greenhouse gas
rating, comparing a vehicle’s emissions of carbon dioxide and other
heat-trapping gases with those of all other vehicles, as well as a smog
rating based on emissions of other air pollutants like nitrogen oxide
and particulates.

Cars capable of running on electricity will get the highest greenhouse gas and smog ratings. Stickers for plug-in hybrids and electric cars will also include their charging time and estimated range while running in electric-only mode.

The labels will include an estimated annual fuel cost based on 15,000 miles traveled at a fuel price of $3.70 per gallon as well as an estimate of how much more or less the vehicle will cost to operate over five years than an average new vehicle. In addition to the familiar city, highway and combined fuel economy estimates expressed in miles per gallon, the sticker will include an estimate of how much fuel the vehicle will need to travel 100 miles.

The E.P.A. said the new gallons-per-mile metric, combined with the estimated fuel costs, would provide consumers a more accurate measure of efficiency and expense than the traditional miles-per-gallon figure, which rarely reflects real-world driving conditions.

The gasoline price is based on Department of Energy surveys and calculations and will typically be updated annually, the E.P.A said.

The label will also include a QR Code that can be scanned by a smartphone to obtain cost estimates based on a consumer’s driving habits and the price of gasoline and electricity where he or she lives, as well as comparisons with other vehicles. Such calculators will also be accessible online. The National Automobile Dealers Association welcomed the new design.


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