Auto Industry Lobby Fail

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Soon, your car might come with a letter grade for fuel efficiency. The Environmental Protection Agency is considering a plan to add As, Bs, Cs, and even Ds to the window stickers that appear on new cars and trucks. Electric vehicles would get an A+, while plug-in hybrids would earn As. The Toyota Prius, Ford Fusion Hybrid, and Honda Civic Hybrid (all gas-electric cars) would get A-, while other hybrids would fall in the B range. Less fuel-efficient vehicles like pickup trucks and sports cars would get Cs and Ds. As you might imagine, the automobile industry lobby isn’t too thrilled by this idea:

Automakers questioned the proposed letter grades, saying it might affect sales. Gloria Bergquist, a spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said “the letter grade inadvertently suggests a value judgment, taking us back to school days where grades were powerful symbols of passing or failing.” She said a broad range of vehicle technologies were needed to improve fuel efficiency.

This has to be one of the worst PR statements ever. I almost suspect the AP writer put it in to embarrass the AAM. “Inadvertent” generally means “unintentional.” But I’m pretty sure that the letter grade system intentionally suggests a value judgment. Showing that some vehicles are better for the environment than others is kind of the point of the exercise. If the new system “affects sales” by encouraging people to buy more fuel-efficient cars, well, I’m sure the EPA wouldn’t complain about that, either. And what’s all this about “school days” being the long-forgotten past “where grades were powerful symbols of passing and failing”? Last time I checked, they still are. A Maybach 57 might get an “A” in acceleration, but it only gets a D+ when it comes to the environment. That’s life. Anyway, this statement gets an F. That’s for “FAIL.”

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Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

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