The new EPA label

The government released new fuel economy labels today in an effort to increase awareness about how much car shoppers spend on fuel. The Environmental Protection Agency says in a press release that the new labels “will help consumers take advantage of the increased efficiency standards achieved under the Obama Administration that will save families money at the pump starting this year. The new labels, which are the most dramatic overhaul to fuel economy labels since the program began more than 30 years ago, will provide more comprehensive fuel efficiency information, including estimated annual fuel costs, savings, as well as information on each vehicle’s environmental impact.”

While the new labels are more informative, the EPA considered assigning letter grades ranging from “A+” through “D” for vehicle fuel efficiency, but decided against it. The Detroit News reports, “The decision — announced this morning by the administration — is a win for automakers that have lobbied against the letter grades, worried that it would have deterred customers from buying larger vehicles that got poor grades.”

According to a new Consumer Reports survey, many shoppers think that fuel efficiency is more important than ever. “The tough economy and high gas prices are driving consumers to prioritize fuel economy with their next car purchase,” states Consumer Reports. “And to save at the pump, they are willing to compromise on purchase price, amenities, and size—but not safety.” The survey says that 58 percent of new car shoppers were willing to pay more for a fuel-efficient car.

But will the new EPA stickers help consumers who’re on the lookout for a fuel-efficient vehicle? Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood thinks so. “These new stickers really tell people quickly, how much they’re going to save,” LaHood said this morning on the Today Show. The new stickers will be on vehicles starting in the 2013 model year.

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