U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette (R-OH) said he is thrilled that the Administration has scrapped plans to "grade" the fuel efficiency of vehicles from A+ to D, and hopes a letter he and U.S. Rep. Dale E. Kildee (D-MI) sent in December to the EPA and Department of Transportation helped sway officials that the grading system was confusing and unnecessary.
The letter was signed by 53 House members.
The letter grades would have meant that only hybrids and electric vehicles would receive top grades, while sedans, mini vans, pickup trucks and SUVs would get much lower grades. The Administration today announced that fuel labels will continue to feature miles per gallon.
The revised stickers will start in with 2013 vehicle models. The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) today thanked Reps. LaTourette and Kildee "for recognizing that consumers need straightforward fuel economy ratings to make an informed purchase."
NADA said with "gasoline spiking to over $4 a gallon and alternative fuel vehicles hitting dealer showrooms, rolling out a totally unfamiliar 'letter grade' label would have only served to confuse and frustrate consumers."
LaTourette said a 2007 law required that fuel efficiency labels be updated, but he thought the "grading" option went too far and preferred labels that continue to focus on fuel efficiency and miles per gallon, noting that most Americans are keenly aware of fuel costs.
"Thank goodness they dropped this proposal. I don't know anyone who will be lured into buying a plug-in electric car that gets the equivalent of 100 mpg because of a large A+ sticker on the side window that will be removed shortly after leaving the lot," LaTourette said.
In his letter to the EPA and DOT, LaTourette wrote that "most fuel efficient SUVs and pickup trucks would rate no higher than a "C+". He also stressed that the proposed grading system was "biased in favor of certain types of vehicles" and that the only vehicles that would qualify for an A or A+ would be battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.
A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll report found that 57 percent of consumers -- nearly six of 10 -- said "they would not buy such an electric car no matter the price of gas." On Tuesday, the Administration announced it will buy 116 electric vehicles for use by federal agencies, and build five charging stations around the country for those vehicles. USA TODAY reports that 100 of the electric vehicles will be Chevy Volts, which cost $41,000. The government did not say how much they will pay for the cars, the paper reported.
In addition, the President issued a Presidential Memorandum that calls on the federal government to lead "by example in fuel efficiency and innovative technology." The requirements call for the government to purchase "100 percent alternative fuel vehicles by 2015" and ensure that agencies "meet the required 30 percent decrease in petroleum consumption by 2020."