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Graded sticker
Graded sticker
Grade: F

It seems appealing because it's simple. The most salient feature of this proposed label is the big letter grade in a colored circle. Better grades -- and brighter colors -- mean better fuel economy.

Don't be fooled, it's a really bad idea and here's why:

First, it's unnecessary. Fuel economy is already described in nice easy-to-compare numbers. We all know that 40 mpg is more efficient than 25 mpg. Turning that into letters and colors only adds a layer of pointless translation.

Second, it's confusing. Imagine a car shopper going into a dealership and seeing a car that's not very dependable and that has poor crash scores with a yellow A+ sticker on it. Nearby is another car of flawless quality with excellent crash ratings and a B+ in the window. Try telling that customer they're really better off buying the B+ car, not the A+ car.

With these stickers, that scenario would happen a lot. Fuel economy numbers already work without seeming like a government-approved sales pitch, so let's use them.

Beyond the oversimplified letter grade at the top the rest of this label is, ironically, a confusing visual babble. There's simply too much information here for anyone to make sense of.

This fuel economy label gets an F.

NEXT: Simple sticker

Last updated September 02 2010: 6:00 AM ET
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