Development of a System of Comparable Car Classes for Fuel Economy Labeling 760794
The Federal Energy Administration analyzed possible approaches to classifying passenger automobiles to fulfill the requirements of Section 506 of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act for the labeling of 1977 and later model year cars with fuel economy information for the individual car and other “comparable cars” in its class.
Weight, wheelbase, price, fuel economy, performance, exterior size, interior passenger space, and cargo (trunk) volume were examined as possible parameters for establishing car classes. To facilitate data handling, computer programs were developed to rank the representative sample of approximately 150 domestic and foreign vehicles of the 1976 new car fleet and sort them into classes.
The interrelationship of these parameters, their relevance to buyer perception and vehicle utility, as measured by exterior and interior volume, and traditional marketing patterns were studied and used as the basis for making the selection of interior volume (including cargo or trunk space) as the class index parameter.
A system with five classes for cars and three classes for station wagons based on the interior volume index relates well to vehicle utility and will be applicable to future vehicles. The use of the volume measurements as a tool for analyzing vehicle design is briefly discussed.