Edmunds.com Sends EPA Results of New Car Window Sticker Poll
SANTA MONICA, Calif. — September 13, 2010 — When the Environmental Protection Agency invited the public a few weeks ago to comment on two proposed redesigns of the traditional new car window sticker, Edmunds.com, the premier online resource for automotive information, launched a poll to determine which sticker is preferred by car buyers. The poll and other related materials can be found at http://www.edmunds.com/fuel-economy/epa-and-dot-propose-new-fuel-economy-labels.html.
More than 80 percent of respondents preferred "Sticker 2," which provides a clearer and more complete set of information, rather than the simple letter grade featured in the "Sticker 1" proposal. From the comments collected in the poll, it appears that many respondents actively voted against "Sticker 1" rather than for "Sticker 2." For example, one person wrote, "Let's present facts, not positive/negative connotation without context."
"There seems to be a viscerally negative reaction to the notion of a letter grade," observed Edmunds.com CEO Jeremy Anwyl in a summary he included in a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson earlier today. "I am not wild about the letter-grading system either. I understand the attempt to simplify, but this should never extend to dumbing down. What does the letter actually mean? The EPA should use this as an opportunity to think more broadly about how the stickers can really help consumers buying vehicles today rather than in the very different era when EPA window stickers were first conceived."
In the 19070s when the EPA sticker originated, consumers obtained vehicle information by driving from dealer to dealer, asking questions and getting brochures. The sticker played a useful role as a provider of information at the point of decision. But today, consumers largely make decisions about which vehicle to buy before visiting the dealership.
Edmunds.com believes that the EPA can add great value by providing the standards behind the data so that consumers can truly benefit from the development of this valuable policy. The new stickers should cover all vehicles, ensuring apples-to-apples comparisons even across vehicle categories (to assist people considering both SUVs and pick-up trucks, for example.) It should also be clear what the data does not cover, such as the environmental impacts of manufacturing and transporting the vehicle.
And, critically, the EPA should mandate how automakers will be allowed to use the data. One of the survey respondants noted, "Auto companies will start making incredibly fuel-efficient cars to get an A grade, which is good, but the over-all quality of the car itself could be lowered." Someone who voted for Sticker 1 commented, "If changing consumer buying habits is one of the goals here, then the 'letter-grading version' will be more successful," perhaps foreseeing the potential marketing opportunity that the letter grade would provide.
Anwyl's final point to Administrator Jackson was that "it would also make things easier for consumers if the information is expressed in terms of monthly cost. We find that consumers care about emissions and MPG – but generally make purchase commitments based on costs. Monthly fuel cost is probably the data point that is most easily comparable across vehicles."
Anwyl further discusses the EPA window sticker redesign proposal in his blog at http://justtoclarify.typepad.com/my-blog/2010/09/so-what-about-the-new-epa-stickers.html.
About Edmunds.com, Inc. (http://www.edmunds.com/about/)
Edmunds.com Inc. publishes four Web sites that empower, engage and educate automotive consumers, enthusiasts and insiders. Edmunds.com, the premier online resource for automotive information, launched in 1995 as the first automotive information Web site. Its mobile site, accessible from any smartphone at www.edmunds.com, makes car pricing and other research tools available for car shoppers at dealerships and otherwise on the go. InsideLine.com is the most-read automotive enthusiast Web site. Its mobile site, accessible from any smartphone at www.insideline.com, features the wireless Web's highest quality car photos and videos. CarSpace is the most established automotive social networking Web site. AutoObserver.com provides insightful automotive industry commentary and analysis. Edmunds.com Inc. is headquartered in Santa Monica, California, and maintains a satellite office in suburban Detroit. Follow Edmunds.com on Twitter@edmunds and fan Edmunds.com on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/edmunds.