GM, Ford stage enviro-war

DETROIT: Planning to become more vocal about SUV and light-truck fuel efficiency, General Motors has assigned vice chairman Harry Pearce to be the company’s point man on the issue.

DETROIT: Planning to become more vocal about SUV and light-truck fuel efficiency, General Motors has assigned vice chairman Harry Pearce to be the company’s point man on the issue.

DETROIT: Planning to become more vocal about SUV and light-truck

fuel efficiency, General Motors has assigned vice chairman Harry Pearce

to be the company’s point man on the issue.



Pearce made headlines earlier this month when he publicly chastised Ford

after CEO Jac Nasser promised that his company would improve its SUV

fuel economy by 25% in the next five years. Prior to Nasser’s

statements, the auto industry had maintained a united front.



’Ford really caught GM off guard with that one,’ said John DeCicco, a

senior associate with the American Council for an Energy Efficient

Economy.



While Ford scion William Clay Ford Jr. has spoken about wanting his

company to be more environmentally friendly, Nasser’s announcement

showed that ’It’s not just the Bill Ford Jr. sideshow - it’s become a

piece of corporate strategy,’ according to DeCicco. ’It puts GM in the

position of having to do the same.’



Countered Jeff Kuhlman, director of energy and environmental

communications with GM, ’We see that we need to be more vocal on these

issues.’ Subsequently, Pearce touted GM’s efforts, saying that the

company boasts better truck-fuel economy than Ford: ’General Motors will

still be the leader in five years - or, for that matter, in 15 years or

20 years, end of story.’



Automakers have long argued that consumers don’t buy SUVs or trucks with

fuel efficiency in mind, but Kuhlman conceded that ’consumer concern

about global environmental issues is growing.’ Additionally, the Clinton

administration has been pressuring Congress to increase average fuel

economy standards.



’Legislation is part of it,’ DeCicco said, noting that Nasser’s comments

were made at the Washington Press Club - always a major forum for

reaching DC opinion leaders.



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