On Wednesday, President Bush signed the new Energy Bill, which is about to change the CAFE standards for automakers in the U.S. dramatically. It sets a goal of 35 mpg for each car makers fleetwide average, an average most car companies have fought against for years. After passing through Congress, the Bill was sent to the President via a Toyota Prius, a hybrid that achieves 46 mpg combined.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, was sending a message about what was in store for the future of cars in the U.S. But some saw the Prius as an insult.
"It is a huge slap in the face, calculated I believe, just to demonstrate their complete disregard for the domestic auto industry," said Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich.Too bad none of the cars made by Ford or GM pass the 35 mpg fuel efficiency goal. The Ford Escape Hybrid (or its luxurious sister, the Mercury Mariner Hybrid) comes closest at 32.2 mpg. Perhaps that's the insulting part?
Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., called it a "slap in the face of every American auto worker."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., they argued, could have provided the same symbolism by sending the bill Wednesday in a U.S.-built hybrid made by Ford Motor Co. or General Motors Corp.
I would think sending over a car that doesn't reach the goal, simply because it was from one of the Detroit 3, would be more insulting. It would show very clearly how they have fallen behind. Although, to be fair, only the Prius and Honda Civic Hybrid surpass the 35 mpg combined fuel economy standard set by the new CAFE.
Rep. Candice Miller has called the Energy Bill "How - Congress - Destroyed - the - Domestic - Auto - Industry" Bill. It seems to me she doesn't have a lot of faith in the Big 3 to rise to the challenge.
Instead of looking at this as an insult, they should be looking at the Prius as a clear challenge. A worthy goal for the car makers to strive for and surpass. Even President Bush has told them to 'build better cars.'
The Energy Bill (CAFE Bill?) is the new standard. Will the big 3 live up to it? Or will they just see it as another insult?