EPA Debuts New Mileage Sticker Designs

One of the two designs you see above and below will adorn future cars’ window stickers. The revisions are spurred by the introduction of alternative-fuel vehicles including electrics, plug-in hybrids and others, and you may see them on many 2012 model year vehicles.

However, there are changes even to the sticker of gas-powered cars that shoppers of a Toyota Prius or a Corvette will need to pay attention to. The sticker on the left is by far the more radical of the two, introducing not just a letter grade to rate the vehicle against an average of all vehicles across both its segment and all classes, but also a monetary figure of how much money it will save you over five years versus that average. The average fuel cost over five years is $10,000. Using that calculation, the average mileage the EPA is using is 22 mpg combined, or the combined mileage of a V-6 powered 2011 Ford Mustang.

The sticker on the right shows only the annual fuel cost without the savings figure. They both have a scale showing how the combined mileage rates against all cars. They differ when showing how the vehicle in question compares against its own segment. The label on the left lists in-class mileage as plain text separate from that scale; the label on the right adds that class’ parameter to the scale itself.

Note, the best mileage is 103 mpg. What car gets that mileage?

None. That figure stems from the new sticker and ratings for electric vehicles that you can see below. The EPA has determined an equivalent mileage rating called “MPGe” or MPG equivalent that is calculated as 33.7 kilowatt-hours being the equivalent of 1 gallon. A 1,000-watt hair dryer generates 1 kwh for an actual hour of use. So this is using the equivalent of 33.7 hours of running a hair dryer for 1 MPGe.

We’re not sure if the EPA will change the top end of the scale’s 103 mpg as new technology increases figure. Labels for alternative-fuel vehicles are unique from the standard labels for gasoline and diesel vehicles. There is a specific label for electric vehicles, plug-in electric-hybrids, natural gasoline vehicles and flex-fuel vehicles that can run on E85 fuel.

The electric and the plug-in hybrid stickers also include a range for the vehicles when fully charged or for the full-charge plus the extended range of a plug-in’s gasoline power source. They also show the amount of time it takes to fully charge the vehicles, but they don’t explain if that is via a standard 110-volt outlet or the larger 220-volt outlets commonly used for electric and plug-in vehicles.

All labels also add a new figure for gallons per 100 miles driven. Many advocates have championed this as a more accurate alternative to the typical mpg figure. Now it seems, consumers will see both.

All labels show environmental impact of the vehicles in terms of greenhouse gasses and other pollutants.

You can view all the stickers below with both versions, and you can enlarge them by clicking on them, the current label is shown above. The EPA is asking for comments from the public on these new stickers for the next 60 days, so go ahead and let the EPA know which version you like better here.

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