Bush, Auto CEOs Meet on Alternative-Fuel Access

Assembling outside the White House after a meeting to discuss ways to improve access to other fuels are, from left, Alan R. Mulally of Ford, G. Richard Wagoner Jr. of General Motors, President Bush, Tom LaSorda of Chrysler Group and Transportation Secretary Mary Peters.
Assembling outside the White House after a meeting to discuss ways to improve access to other fuels are, from left, Alan R. Mulally of Ford, G. Richard Wagoner Jr. of General Motors, President Bush, Tom LaSorda of Chrysler Group and Transportation Secretary Mary Peters. (By Pablo Martinez Monsivais -- Associated Press)
By Sholnn Freeman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Detroit's automakers yesterday urged President Bush to help improve consumer access to ethanol and biodiesel fuels in an effort to reduce the nation's consumption of gasoline.

After a meeting with Bush at the White House, chief executives G. Richard Wagoner Jr. of General Motors, Alan R. Mulally of Ford and Tom LaSorda of Chrysler said few pumps at U.S. service stations deliver alternative fuels. "We are willing to lead the way, but we need government and fuel providers to increase infrastructure before we can make a meaningful impact," the executives said in a joint statement.

The auto executives, who met with Bush in November, said that by 2012 they plan to have doubled production of flex-fuel vehicles that run on an ethanol-gasoline blend called E85. The executives also were committed to increasing production of vehicles that are powered by other biofuels.

Bush has set a goal of reducing the nation's gasoline consumption by 20 percent over the next 10 years. The auto executives showed Bush three alternative fuel vehicles parked on a White House driveway yesterday: a GM sedan that can run on a gasoline-ethanol blend; a Ford sport-utility vehicle powered by hydrogen and electricity; and a Jeep SUV with a biodiesel engine.

Bush, who joined the executives for remarks after the meeting, called the move toward flex-fuel vehicles "a major technological breakthrough for the country."

"If you want to reduce gasoline usage . . . the consumer has got to be in a position to make a rational choice," Bush said.

The Detroit automakers and Toyota Motor are fighting an effort by Congress to toughen fuel economy rules, arguing that a change would threaten thousands of jobs and cost the industry billions of dollars. The executives said their discussion with Bush steered clear of fuel economy standards.

"If they did not talk about fuel economy, they should have," said Lowell Unger, senior policy analyst at the Alliance to Save Energy, which wants higher fuel economy standards. "You will never grow enough corn to supply the growing fuel needs of our country unless we make vehicles more efficient."


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