Heads of Gm, Ford, and Chrysler Meet Again With Bush

By: KatieJones

CEOs of the Detroit's Big Three met with US President George W. Bush to tackle the use of alternative fuels. The talk is also an effort on the part of the administration to solicit support for the "20 in 10 program," which is aimed at reducing gasoline usage by 20 percent come the year 2017.

General Motors Corp. Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner, Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally and Chrysler Group CEO Tom LaSorda all expressed strong support for Bush's goal of significantly increasing the amount of ethanol used to fuel vehicles. The ethanol accounts for 15 percent of the intended reduction.

President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney participated in the demonstration of the three flex-fuel vehicles which were parked on the south lawn of the White House. The vehicles include a concept vehicle from Ford, the Edge Hy-Series Hybrid which can run on electricity or hydrogen alone; the flex-fuel Chevrolet Impala; and a bio-diesel fueled Jeep Grand Cherokee.

The vehicles do not only flaunt striking GM engines, , and Chrysler styling but they showcase the future of fuels. The automakers affirm their commitment to increase flex-fuel vehicles like those that run on biodiesel or ethanol. The target is to increase flex-fuel vehicles up to 50 percent by 2012. But automakers noted that it is not very difficult to convert a traditional gasoline engine to a flexible fuel vehicle. The conversion typically costs $100 or less.

"I found it very interesting that by 2012, 50 percent of the automobiles in America will be flex-fuel vehicles. That means that the American consumer will be able to either use gasoline or ethanol, depending upon, obviously, price and convenience. That's a major technological breakthrough for the country," Bush said. "If you want to reduce gasoline usage, like I believe we need to do so for national security reasons, as well as for environmental concerns, the consumer has got to be in a position to make a rational choice."

Bush reiterated his call on Congress to "move expeditiously on our plan to reduce gasoline usage by 20 percent over the next 10 years." Bush added, "It's in our national security interest that we do this, it's in economic security interest we do it, and all at the same time, it will help us be better stewards of the environment."

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, commended the talk but said it is only a start. "I'm encouraged by the President's willingness to sit down with the Big Three, but the real proof of his commitment must come in the form of action," she said. "Michigan is building the cars, and it's time that the Administration put their full weight behind ensuring that all Americans have access to alternative fuels at their local gas station."

But environmental advocates said the emphasis on alternative fuels missed the point. Joan Claybrook, the president of Public Citizen, a group that advocates higher fuel economy standards said: "Automakers fool consumers into thinking they are helping the environment and lessening our dependency on foreign oil, while they manipulate the CAFE credit loophole, avoid meeting federal fuel economy standards and laugh their way to the bank."

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