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Caring Auto Industry Won't Let You Be Bullied By Nasty Old EPA

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Reading the news in our automotive world never fails to surprise and delight.

Take, for example, our discovery of the soliticitousness exhibited by automakers who care deeply about the delicate and fragile feelings of car buyers.

Yes, those same car buyers from whom an independent dealer's job is extract maximum profits on the sale of a vehicle, one whose invoice cost and incentives are now more or less public knowledge.

The issue that so threatens the self-esteem of delicate drivers is one of two designs for new-car fuel efficiency ratings stickers proposed two weeks ago  by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Proposed design (1 of 2) for gas mileage and emissions impact of new vehicle, U.S. EPA, August 2010

Proposed design (1 of 2) for gas mileage and emissions impact of new vehicle, U.S. EPA, August 2010

Back in April, the National Auto Dealers' Association criticized new fuel-efficiency rules for 2012-2016 vehicles, well before the proposed window stickers were made public, noting that three agencies had contributed to the (uniform) set of standards that emerged for the 2012-2016 model years.

In a statement, NADA said that the price of new cars and trucks would rise "significantly" under the tighter rules. Given economic uncertainties, said the voice of the nation's auto dealers, consumers do not want to "pay more for redundant rules and an unnecessary bureaucracy."

The Association left unexplained why an agency charged by Congress with protecting environmental quality, including regulation of vehicle emissions, constituted an "unnecessary bureaucracy." But then, bashing government workers always plays well.

Now, Dave McCurdy, president and CEO of the Auto Alliance (which represents automakers that manufacture in the States other than GM, Ford, and Chrysler), has gone further. He is deeply concerned about the proposed window sticker design. Why?

"The proposed letter grade falls short," McCurdy said, "because it is imbued with school-yard memories of passing and failing."

How awful. How challenging. How downright traumatizing and dreadful. Imagine: Some cars might pass, while others might ... [gasp] ... fail.

Perhaps every potential car buyer should get a nice bright shiny sticker, just for participating! That way, none of us would feel scorned, or bullied, or less-than-better-than-average. Happy smiley faces all around!

In reality, of course, we suspect the reason the industry dislikes the letter grades is because they would spotlight which vehicles--across the entire spectrum of vehicles for sale--have good fuel economy, and which don't.

Sadly, at the moment, most of the highly fuel efficient vehicles that would win As or Bs are smaller--and less profitable for manufacturers and dealers--than the larger, luxury-laden full-size cars and trucks that would be awarded the Cs and Ds.

Could it be that some car buyers on the margin might tilt toward a smaller, more fuel-efficient car? How dreadful that would be.

We rather wish that executives would just come out and say that letter grades might reduce industry profits by driving consumers toward more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Because, call us cynical if you will, but we just don't believe that the auto industry really, truly cares about the delicate state of our psyches. Or our school-yard memories.

[HybridCars.com, Reuters]

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Comments (7)
  1. "The proposed letter grade falls short," McCurdy said, "because it is imbued with school-yard memories of passing and failing." - Awww, Mr. McCurdy, did somebody fail? Does someone need a hug? Just don't come to me ok.
     
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  2. Wait this really misses the point. I think dealerships should get a letter grade and require it to be placed as the largest sign on their lot.
    Having a big letter "F" describing your dealership would probably be more important than what is placed on the cars.
    Serious, has anyone had worse shopping experience than in a dealership?
     
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  3. Ok, i will take your invitation and call you cynical. Yes we'd all love to be able to go to the auto dealer and pick up any kind of vehicle that we like and have it run on love and whale songs, but the truth is that will never happen. When proponents of green tech are cynical like this, you're just being seen as Greenpeace or ALF type whackos.
    The dealers likely are fighting this because they get more profit based on average sticker price and not volume, which is what you're looking at with smaller cars.
    But for the love of the tree gods, take the high road.
    Lets honestly look at these stickers. apparently the american public is too stupid to understand that higher MPG is a good thing and now we have to dedicate half of the government mandated label to a letter grade?
     
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  4. if anything this will over-simplify an amazingly complex problem. what if I go to buy a pickup truck (because I build the roads and buildings that cynical tree worshippers use daily). every pickup truck is going to have an F grade.. so really it doesn't if I pick one over the other.. right? no lets just lump all pick-up trucks into a terrible category so that people think theyre all evenly terrible and they're less likely to make it down to the real MPG figure and find out that this truck is actually better than that truck.
    face it guys, these labels are disgusting. when they were unveiled I swore it was a joke. the dealers are complaining about the wrong things, I agree. but these labels are flawed none the less.
    Side point I'd also like to point out that Auto Alliance is complaining about this, when the single vehicle that Auto Alliance sells the most of is the Prius.
    Get off your cynical green throne and stop assuming huge conspiracies with anything that doesn't scream of whale songs and unicorn farts.
     
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  5. and for what it's worth I drive compact cars, always with manual transmissions, tune my car twice a year, and never buy new. I want green cars just as much as the next person. These labels don't compare vehicles in their respective classes and thats the stupid part.
    conceivably if "A" ratings are given out to anything over 40MPG for example, a ford focus could get the same rating as a Prius, and people will say "well why would i spend so much more on the prius when the focus is just as good, AND made in Detroit.
    Ps., why a 750 character limit? don't want people speaking up?
     
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  6. The problem is when im buying a car I need to know vs other cars in its price range and doing the same task/looking the same way.

    I dont need to know what a prious is doing if im shopping for a minivan or a micro car. If im shopping for a truck to haul a 6 horse horse trailer or a 30 foot boat I realy dont need to know how a smart does. I need to know how my pick does vs other like cars made in the last x years.
     
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  7. thank you winter.
     
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