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Dealer Campaign Drives 'Science-Based' Fuel Economy Standards

March 14, 2002

The National Automobile Dealers Association's advocacy helped win passage of a Senate amendment March 13 that would ensure vehicle

fuel efficiency is improved without significant and adverse impacts on consumers, dealers and manufacturers, according to NADA.

The Senate passed by a vote of 62 to 38 an NADA-supported bipartisan amendment to the pending energy bill which authorizes the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) to set new corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards for cars and light trucks within a specified timeframe.

The amendment, co-authored by Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Christopher "Kit" Bond (R-Mo.), directs the agency to take into consideration the following factors: technological feasibility; the effect on motor vehicle safety; the effect of increased fuel economy on air quality; the effect on U.S. employment; and the cost and lead-time required for the introduction of new technologies.

The measure replaces an energy bill provision drafted by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.) that would have required automakers to increase the combined

average fuel economy for passenger vehicles and light trucks to 35 miles per gallon by 2015.

"The Levin-Bond amendment ensures that important

progress is made in increasing energy efficiencies while also ensuring that the automobile industry continues to be a vital part of our nation's economic recovery," said Carter Myers, chairman of NADA.

The American International Automobile Dealers Association (AIADA) said passage of the Bond-Levin amendment was “a victory for American consumers and their freedom of vehicle choice in the marketplace.”

“Efforts to dramatically increase CAFE standards threatened to compromise vehicle safety and would have eliminated some of the most popular vehicles on the road today," said AIADA President Walter Huizenga.

"This was a hard-fought victory over an unreasonable proposal that threatened our member's jobs and their business investments. Bond-Levin is a sensible provision designed to seek rational increases in CAFE via the regulatory process without jeopardizing consumer choice and safety," Huizenga added.

“Today's decision by the Senate is right for the U.S. automotive supplier industry and for consumers," said Jeff Trask, vice president of government relations for the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA).

“The amendment directs NHTSA to establish new fuel economy requirements after considering a number of important factors," Trask said. "This will help ensure that CAFE standards are set at the appropriate level, thereby allowing our industry's contributions to automotive innovation in many areas to continue. Consumers will also benefit, as their needs are among those NHTSA must consider in setting new standards."

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