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U.S. automakers turned backs on us

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

U.S. automakers turned backs on us

Mark L. Binder
Sarasota, Florida
December 21, 2003

A recent letter writer complained about people not "driving American."  Count us among them!

In June 2000 we saw a story on "Good Morning America" introducing us to the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight, gas/electric hybrids.  We contacted our local Toyota dealer and ordered a Prius.  The car is totally amazing!  We average 42-48 mpg with the a/c running and are seeing 48-52 without.  And the 2004 Prius is now available in this country, with mileage running around a staggering 52-62 mpg!

The Prius is among the lowest-emission, most efficient vehicles on the planet; when the gas/electric hybrid minivan is made available in this country we intend to have one as well.

The automakers in this country have had the technology to build such cars for many, many decades, but have refused to do so.  Congress recently had the opportunity to increase the CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) standards minimally; it caved in to intense lobbying from both the auto and oil industries, with the complete backing of the Bush administration.  That's who turned their backs on America, not the buyers of foreign cars.

And lest we forget, the Bush administration, soon after taking office, ended funding for gas/electric research and production, instead claiming that hydrogen fuel cells were the wave of the future.  Perhaps this is true, but hybrid technology is available now.

Months ago, Ford and Chevrolet proclaimed their intent to produce gas/electric hybrids.  However, they will instead increase production of SUVs, America's abusers of oil consumption.

"Someday we will be the country depending upon other countries," the letter writer says.  Well, thanks to the auto and gas industries, with the blessing of the White House, "someday" has been here for years.  Should we spend our hard-earned money on a decidedly deficient American product, and then give our gas money to the oil-producing counties?

This article was originally published as a letter to the editor in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and also appeared at EV World.

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