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US authorities to clean up car labeling

Choosing a greener car could be about to get easier for US consumers under new legislation proposed August 30 by the Obama administration.

Under the first of the federal ideas, each vehicle will be given a bold letter grade from A+ to D for its fuel economy and emissions compared to the US average.

The second proposal retains the current label's focus on miles per gallon and annual fuel costs, adding new comparison information.

Current labels have just a mile-per-gallon figure without any pollution ratings, and are restricted to that vehicle's class, reports Automotive News.

The proposals from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) would also affect electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, showing energy use by translating electricity consumption into miles per gallon equivalent.

The proposed label designs for EVs also include energy use expressed in terms of kilowatt-hours per 100 miles.

“We are asking the American people to tell us what they need to make the best economic and environmental decisions when buying a new car,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.

“New fuel economy labels will keep pace with the new generation of fuel efficient cars and trucks rolling off the line, and provide simple, straightforward updates to inform consumers about their choices in a rapidly changing market."

The proposals are similar to the consumer-friendly labels already in place in several European countries, which are required by EU law to provide information relating to fuel economy and CO2 emissions on new cars.

United States consumers can view the proposed rule and labels at a special fuel economy website for 60 days, with the EPA and DOT aiming to have legislation in place to appear on the windows of 2012 model year vehicles.