Many of the top auto manufacturers selling vehicles in the
United States are at least attempting to reduce consumption of fossil
fuels. Big names like General Motors, Ford, Toyota, and Honda have
production models or prototypes that rely on hybrid, fuel cell or diesel
technology to improve fuel efficiency.
President Bush wants even more progress from automakers and
for even stricter fuel economy standards in the coming years.
"We have laid out a plan that will affect greenhouse
gases that come from automobiles by having a mandatory fuel standard that
insists on 35 -- using 35 billion gallons of alternative fuels by 2017, which
will reduce our gasoline uses by 20 percent and halt the growth in greenhouse
gases that emanate from automobiles," said President Bush to reporters.
"In other words, there is a remedy available for Congress. And I strongly
hope that they pass this remedy quickly."
The Bush administration has calculated that the costs for
the auto industry would come in at $114 billion USD between 2010 and 2017 to
comply -- GM's share is said to be $40 billion USD.
Outspoken GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz was quick
to respond to Bush's request. Lutz figures that in order for GM to reduce overall
gasoline consumption 20% by the year 2017, it would need to raise the price of its
vehicles by $5,000
to $6,000 USD. Lutz also remarked that the only way to meet Bush's goal
would be to make almost every vehicle a hybrid or use other more expensive
technologies like ethanol-based E85, all-electric or
hydrogen-fuel cell vehicles. "This technology does not come for
free," said Lutz.
That being said, GM is adding hybrid technology to existing
vehicles to improve fuel efficiency. The Saturn Aura Green Line
promises a 30% increase in fuel economy compared to a base Aura XE and is
priced at a relatively reasonable $22,695 USD including destination charge. GM
has also started early production on dual-mode hybrid
versions of its Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon full-size SUVs. Hybrid
technology is said to increase the fuel economy of these vehicles by as much as