WASHINGTON -- The federal government completed plans today for the first significant changes in vehicle fuel economy estimates in more than 20 years.
The changes, which include newly designed window stickers, are effective with the 2008 model year.
Some 2008 models could go on sale as early as next month, the EPA says.
Revised methods of calculating fuel economy estimates are supposed to more accurately reflect real-world driving conditions. They are to take into account higher speeds, more rapid acceleration, use of air conditioning and cold-weather driving. Consequently, estimates for many models are expected to go down.
Automakers, wary of consumer reaction, have created a Web site, www.mileagewillvary.com. It will educate motorists about the changes and recommend ways to go farther on a gallon of fuel, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers said. The alliance represents the Detroit 3, Toyota Motor Corp. and five other import-brand companies.
The new EPA rules also expand the labeling requirement to vehicles as heavy as 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight, from 8,500 pounds. This means the largest SUVs and vans will get labels for the first time, starting with 2011 models.
The changes came after a lengthy EPA study, spawned by environmental group complaints that government fuel economy estimates are misleading.
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