New cars might be getting environmental letter grades under a plan by the Transportation Department and Environmental Protection Agency to redesign auto-lot window stickers. There are actually two designs up for public comment; one of them would resemble the current stickers but add emissions data in accordance with the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. But the other would be dominated by a new grade based on fuel efficiency and tailpipe emissions. The emergence of electric and hybrid autos plays a part; both new sticker designs show what fuel a vehicle uses. Another change: Where current stickers compare a vehicle to others in its class, the new ones will additionally use a more comprehensive scale including all labeled vehicles.
What do you think of the letter grade? Would this be an effective way to steer new-car buyers away from gas-guzzlers? Should the government use the grading system to reflect the available fuel economy options or to make a statement about desired standards? What are the pluses and minuses of rating compact cars and SUVs on the same scale? Is this grading approach applicable to other consumer data, like safety ratings?