U.S. Automakers Face Battle Over Environment

With ZEV mandate looming, carmakers face decision time on building high mileage vehicles.

Published: 05-Jan-2001

OIT, Michigan (AP) -- After a year of touting their efforts to make cars and trucks more environmentally friendly, U.S. automakers will face two thorny disputes in 2001 -- fuel economy and emissions -- that could threaten their green credibility.

"This was the year that fuel economy got put on the table," said Jason Mark, transportation director for the Union of Concerned Scientists. "The key question is how the auto industry deals with it in the coming year."

Ford Motor Co. made a big splash in July when it announced a plan to improve the fuel economy of its sport utility vehicles by 25 percent over five years. Ford's claim riled executives at General Motors Corp. enough that the world's largest automaker came out a week later to say it too would improve the fuel economy of its SUVs.

"GM will be the leader in five years, or for 15 years or 20 years," vice chairman Harry Pearce said. "We have spent years achieving this leadership position. And I think it's extremely important that when we talk about fuel economy, we talk about deeds, not words."

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