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MotorWeek Video Transcript: EPA's New MPG Ratings

Jessica Shea Choksey: After years of public debate, the Environmental Protection Agency is changing its testing procedures for new car fuel mileage estimates so that they are more inline with real world results.

The EPA’s tests and regulations will apply to 2008 model year vehicles, some of which will be on sale by early spring.

The move, which strives to end inflated fuel estimates, save motorists money, and reduce global warming pollution, was heavily supported by environmental, public health and consumer groups, as well as a mystified public that seldom got close to the mileage estimates found on a new car’s window sticker.

In response, the EPA is adding new tests to its City and Highway driving cycles that will better reflect changing driving habits that include higher speeds, rapid acceleration, and the use of air conditioning. The present laboratory test procedures not been changed since 1985.

The new tests will likely reduce the City estimates for most vehicles by 10-to-20 percent, compared to what they would have been under the old testing procedures. Highway estimates will likely drop 5-15 percent. Gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles may endure even larger cuts, decreasing their City mileage by estimates of 20-30 percent, and 10-20 percent for highway.

In addition, the redesigned window sticker is more user friendly, with a more prominent display of the annual fuel costs for a new vehicle.

The new regulations also close a loophole and will require a window sticker on many of the largest truck, SUVs, and vans that did not previously have to list fuel mileage estimates due to their gross-vehicle weight being over 8,500 pounds.

The reality is that the new labels will not help consumers achieve better fuel economy immediately.  But, when they do go shopping for their next new vehicle, they’ll have a more realistic idea of how much pain to expect at the pump, and hopefully pass up a gas guzzler and make a more fuel efficient choice.  Consumers can check the Federal Government’s online Fuel Economy Guide for more information. And that’s it for this week’s MotorNews.