Soon not just your kid, but your car could get a report card

New government labels are coming for cars and they could clearly send some vehicles straight to the head of the class, while others wind up just a grade away from detention.

These new labels, developed by the U.S. Departments of Transportation and Environmental Protection, are designed to make it clearer for consumers where a car stands on the spectrums of fuel economy, carbon emissions and energy use. The idea is to help people compare vehicles across types, which can be tricky under the current system, which displays a car’s EPA-figured gas mileage on the retail sticker sheet plastered to the side window.

One new label under consideration grades the vehicle for energy use and emissions.

One new label under consideration grades the vehicle for energy use and emissions.

California’s new auto emissions labels help sort out cleanest vehicles

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

Just like you hunt for that Energy Star tag when examining a fridge or washer, people in California can now duck under the hood of any new 2009 model car to get an at-a-glance emissions rating.

The Environmental Performance sticker, mandated to begin on Jan. 1 for all new model cars, will include two scores, one rating the car’s smog emissions and the other its greenhouse gas output. The air pollutants for the latter include carbon dioxide emissions, which make up the greatest volume of greenhouse gases. Gas engine cars emit nitrous oxides, methane gases, hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide and other emissions.

Eight Green Concept Cars To Tickle Your Imagination

By John Fadler and Keelan Tollefson

Pushed by the dwindling prospects for fossil fuels, the auto industry is undergoing changes not seen since the days of Henry Ford. Today’s innovators aren’t just looking to gear up production, they’re trying to dial back energy use, and that’s produced a bumper crop of wild and wacky (and some not so wacky) concept cars.

Here are eight of our favorites:

Air Car

It would cost less to manufacture (and buy), less to maintain, less to fuel and there would be no emissions. The makers of this car, Air Car Factories, are either on drugs or they’ve seized the Holy Grail. Their car would run on compressed air collected by see-saw devices on the road. Each car would be refueled through regenerative driving. The Barcelona-based company expects to begin with electric models, until testing is completed on the Air Car. A green dream? We hope it’s a reality.

Nike ONE

That’s right. This is a car designed by a shoe maker. It doesn’t much look like a shoe. More like…nothing you’ve seen before. The car is intended to be “athletic.” No joke. “An athlete training to drive the Nike ONE uses a physical resistance simulator, that mimics the vehicle’s controls, along with the digital simulation within GT4 to train their muscles and mind for specific tracks and competition scenarios,” explains Phil Frank, lead designer, who said his team was inspired by the principals of Nike founder Bill Bowerman. The long term plan is that any movement by the driver would be converted into electricity through nanotechnology using a “Spark Suit.” Frank calls it “the ultimate in convergent technologies.” We agree.

A Tax Tonic For Hybrid Shoppers

By Barbara Kessler If you’ve been considering diving into the hybrid car market, the 2008 model year will tempt you as never before, especially if you still want or need a multiple seat vehicle. Toyota’s top-selling SUV hybrid, the Highlander, has gotten a...