WASHINGTON - It doesn't have offices or staff, and its members don't know for sure whether they can work together. Yet, a new multinational automotive trade association is trying right off the bat to forge a position on a tough issue, clean air rules.
'It'll be a good test,' said Timothy MacCarthy, top lobbyist for Nissan North America Inc. and an executive committee member of the newly formed Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.
The alliance, formally launched on Tuesday, Jan. 12, unites the former Big 3 and six overseas-based companies in a fresh attempt at cooperation on public policy issues in the nation's capital.
Executives went directly from the launching ceremony to a strategy session on clean air. They said they want to exert some influence before the Clinton administration unveils its proposal for the next round of clean air rules, known as Tier 2, within the next few weeks.
But already there is evidence that cooperation between traditional American manufacturers and international-brand makers won't be as far-reaching as some might have hoped.
'One of the big issues will be trucks,' said James Olson, senior vice president for external affairs at Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. and another executive committee member.
He suggested that the alliance position on Tier 2 may skirt the difficult question of whether light trucks should be required to meet the same standards as cars. Companies that rely more on truck sales more likely would oppose such a provision.
Others held out hope for an agreement.
Susan Foxworth Skerker, senior director of worldwide public policy for Ford Motor Co., said after the clean air meeting, 'The nitty gritty is always the toughest, but (there is) the potential for consensus, yes.'