Candidates prod automakers on fuel efficiency
By Nedra Pickler
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON — Democratic-controlled Washington stepped in to help save Chrysler nearly 30 years ago when the automaker was on the verge of bankruptcy due to lackluster sales of its fuel-thirsty vehicles.
With the Big Three struggling again, many political leaders now are taking Detroit to task for failing to do more to reduce how much gas their vehicles use. The Democratic presidential candidates are pledging tougher gas mileage rules. Automakers say such changes would hurt an industry already down.
But the political climate is turning against the companies. Concern is increasing about global warming. Pump prices are high. People are worried about U.S. dependence on oil from the Middle East.
“We’re talking about saving the auto industry from itself,” said Sen. Chris Dodd, who is proposing the highest increase of any presidential candidate.
Dodd, D-Conn., wants to double the average fuel economy for each automaker, from about 24 miles per gallon today to 50 mpg by 2017.
Other Democratic candidate have talked about mileage increases, too.
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a former energy secretary, also wants to reach 50 mpg, but his deadline would be three years later than Dodd’s.
Richardson plans to offer details of his proposal Thursday.
Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards wants 40 mpg by 2016.
At a speech last Monday, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama lectured automakers on their home turf for investing in bigger, faster cars while dependency on oil is jeopardizing U.S. security and the environment.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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