New Cars May Get 'Green' Grades

Posted on Sep 01, 2010
   New cars and trucks may soon get a fuel efficiency grade if a recent government proposal to add letter grades to showroom stickers passes. The grade would show the vehicle's overall fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions.

   Another option being considered to convey such information is an update of the current sticker to compare the vehicle's fuel economy and tailpipe emissions. The showroom stickers haven't been significantly updated in 30 years, according to the Transportation Department and the Environmental Protection Agency.

   The government wants the labels to reflect emerging vehicle technologies. The changes are required under a 2007 energy law.

   Under the letter grade option, an average vehicle on fuel efficiency and emissions would receive a B-, with electric vehicles rating an A+. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles would earn an A, and the Ford Fusion hybrid, Honda Civic hybrid and Toyota Prius, all gas-electric hybrids, would receive an A-.

   The Toyota Camry, the best-selling passenger car in America, would get a B or B-, depending on the vehicle's engine. The lowest grade, a D, would go to the Ferrari 612 Scaglietti.

   "From electric to plug-in hybrid vehicles, we think a new label is absolutely necessary to help consumers make the right decision for their wallet and for the environment," said Gina McCarthy, the EPA's top air pollution official.

   Automakers fear the grades may affect sales, preferring a broad range of vehicle technologies to improve fuel efficency. The public can email comments about the proposal to [email protected]. A final plan is expected early next year.