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Consumer Confidential: Better car labels, easier e-banking, CPK's new daddy

May 25, 2011 |  9:54 am

Stickerpic Here's your howlin'-wolf Wednesday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- If you're shopping for a new car, you'll soon have better info for making a purchase. The Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation have unveiled new fuel economy labels for cars and trucks -- the most significant update since 1975, when the feds first required fuel economy data. Designed to provide more detailed information about vehicles' fuel efficiency, estimated annual fuel cost and environmental effect, the new stickers will be rolled out with 2013 model year vehicles, although some manufacturers may voluntarily adopt the new labels for the 2012 model year. The labels will, for the first time, allow consumers to compare energy use and cost for new-technology cars such as plug-in electrics. They will include estimates on the amount of money consumers will save or spend on fuel for the next five years compared with an average new vehicle. And they will estimate how much fuel or electricity is required to drive 100 miles.

-- E-banking is getting easier. Three of the four largest banks are launching a system that lets customers transfer money from their checking accounts using only a mobile number or e-mail address. The banks say the service, called clearXchange, will make payments easier than traditional money transfers, which require a bank routing number and move through a system controlled by Federal Reserve banks. The service is a joint venture between Bank of America, Chase and Wells Fargo. The banks expect to add other financial institutions, eventually creating an industry-wide utility for moving money. ClearXchange is an attempt by the banks to retain fee-weary customers who have embraced alternatives such as prepaid debit cards and EBay's PayPal money-transfer service.

-- CPK has a new daddy. Golden Gate Capital is buying California Pizza Kitchen for about $470 million in cash, ending a sales process that had gone on for more than a year. Under the terms of the deal, Golden Gate will pay $18.50 a share, or almost 11% more than CPK’s closing share price on Tuesday. "We have great respect for the California Pizza Kitchen brand," says Josh Olshansky, a Golden Gate managing director. "The business that the CPK team has built, with its great product offerings, makes it an ideal fit with our long-term oriented approach to investing." California Pizza Kitchen put itself up for sale in April 2010 after receiving interest from several buyout firms.

-- David Lazarus

Photo: New cars will soon have more informative stickers. Credit: Stephen Morton / Bloomberg News