- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 19, 2003

DETROIT, Feb. 19 (UPI) — The Big Three automakers say a federal proposal to hike light truck fuel economy by 1.5 miles per gallon for 2007 models would make pickups, minivans and sport-utility vehicles less safe.

General Motors Corp. sent a 127-page report to federal auto safety regulators last week opposing higher mileage standards for light trucks.

"NHTSA has significantly underestimated the costs of its new standards," GM said in the letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Last December, NHTSA proposed increasing mileage standards for light trucks to 21 mpg for model year 2005, 21.6 mpg in 2006, and 22.2 mpg in 2007.

"To develop such a design and apply it across the fleet would take many engineers and years of dedicated effort," GM wrote.

The Detroit News said the world's largest automaker estimated increasing light truck mileage from the current 20.7 mpg to 22.2 mpg would cost 105,000 jobs in the United States and about $275 per vehicle — $1.1 billion — over three years.

GM said it would be able to achieve average truck fleet fuel economy of only 20 mpg in 2005, 20.1 mpg in 2006 and 20.8 mpg in 2007.

Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler division said the requirement would make the industry less efficient and unfairly penalize full-line automakers. Chrysler suggested lowering the 2005 standard to 20.9 mpg, 21.1 mpg for 2006 and 21.5 mpg for 2007.

Japan's Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. said they could meet the proposed standard but warned consumers might not be willing to pay the cost of developing more fuel-efficient technologies.

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