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The auto manufacturers are optimistic they will defeat a Senate bill to raise the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standard to 35 miles per gallon (mpg), but some are willing to accept a smaller CAFE increase, according to the Automotive News.
A DaimlerChrysler executive said if the CAFE standard is raised to 35 mpg, then it would be impossible to build “minivans, sport-utilities and pickup trucks (all RV potential tow vehicles) like we know them.”
However, the same executive, Robert Liberatore, senior vice president for external affairs and public policy, also was quoted by the Automotive News saying, “We at DaimlerChrysler believe NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) will increase the standard and we support their increasing the standards.”
A vote on the Senate bill sponsored by Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) is expected in the next few weeks, according to the Automotive News.
The Hollings/Kerry bill would raise CAFE for the entire fleet of new cars and light trucks to 35 mpg beginning in 2013. The current CAFE standard for cars is 27.5 mpg and 20.7 mpg for light trucks, such as SUVs, minivans and pickups.
The auto companies generally believe NHTSA, not Congress, should decide whether to raise CAFE standards because the agency would take into account the impact on the industry and vehicle safety.
So far, automakers have been unwilling to suggest what a new, higher CAFE standard should be, because, as a Toyota executive said, “We are not going to throw a number out here or ever in front of the Senate, where it is going to be auctioned up.”