Carmakers Do Delicate Minuet Between Marketing and Lobbying

The delicate minuet of marketing and lobbying shows how car makers are bowing toward pressure for earth-friendly, fuel-efficient autos while at the same time tiptoeing around the fact that fuel-thirsty trucks and sport-utility vehicles are big sellers.

Published: 14-Nov-2007

Touting a hydrogen-powered Chevrolet, a Lincoln with a super-efficient gasoline engine and a hybrid Dodge, car makers plan to use the Los Angeles auto show this week to demonstrate that they're on a fast track to delivering vehicles that offer dramatically improved fuel economy.

But in Washington, where the rules on reducing gasoline consumption are made, car makers are fighting to block the toughest proposal under consideration for raising federal mileage standards.

"They're definitely saying one thing to Congress and one thing to consumers," says Phyllis Cuttino, director of the Pew Campaign for Fuel Efficiency, an environmental group lobbying for tougher fuel-efficiency rules. Just last week, an alliance of environmental groups took on Toyota Motor Corp., which often is praised for its gas-electric hybrid technology, in a full-page ad in USA Today for opposing the mileage proposal.

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