Bringing Truth to the EPA Window Sticker

February 3rd, 2012 | 3 Comments »

I have just placed a new white paper on this website entitled “The EPA’s Flawed 2013 Window Sticker”. Automobile “window stickers” provide relevant information about new automobiles. They are affixed to every new car in every showroom in the U.S. The window sticker is specified and designed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with support from the Department of Energy (DOE) and Department of Transportation (DOT); the logos of all three organizations are on the most recent sticker. The EPA and related agencies set the standards for car fuel economy testing. Actual testing of cars is done by the car manufacturers. EPA verifies a small number of the cars tested at the National Vehicles and Fuel Emissions Laboratory.

The window stickers changed very little in the last three decades. But in May 2011 a very substantial change was made to the sticker which will become official in 2013. CO2 emissions information was added for the first time, including the CO2 generated, measured in grams per mile, as well as where this car fits on a CO2 scale of 1 to 10 within its class. Another very significant addition to the sticker is Miles per Gallon Equivalent (MPGe) for Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) and Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs). This reflects the high priority the Obama administration has set for electric cars, allocating billions of dollars for battery and EV manufacturing programs.

The accuracy and completeness of the most recent window sticker relative to fuel economy and CO2 emissions information is questionable. The influence of car manufacturers as well as energy companies and utilities on the design and information content on the window stickers needs to be understood.  The new window sticker design ignores the fact that energy is consumed and CO2 generated when creating electricity at a power plant. This could be a fatal strategic flaw that may result in a public backlash which could challenge the integrity of the newest window sticker and disillusion consumers about electric and plug-in hybrid cars.

The white papers on this website are gathered under the overall rubric of “Plug-in Scam”. The term “scam” is used because a group of government agencies, non profits, utilities, automakers, and lobbyists are deliberately misleading consumers to buy electric vehicles. They are doing this by misrepresenting the physics and mathematics of miles per gallon equivalency (MPGe) between electricity and gasoline. They are not telling the whole story, leaving out considerations of source and site energy and CO2.

This most recent paper explores the window sticker in detail. It shows how the government agencies use the fact that the energy in a gallon of gasoline is equivalent to 33.7 kWh if generation is ignored. The appropriate equivalency ratio is that energy in a gallon of gasoline is equivalent to 12.3 kWh. The government ratio does not address the roughly two-thirds of the energy that is consumed in transforming oil and other fossil fuels into electricity. So the MPGe numbers for the Volt and the Leaf must be divided by three to get a fair comparison with a gasoline car’s MPG.

The white paper also suggests some new wording and formatting to make this issue clear to consumers. Hopefully the EPA will correct the window sticker in time for the 2013 cars that will begin to be announced in the fall of 2012.


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