Automakers no longer can just say no to demands for higher fuel economy standards.
Rising gasoline prices are spawning support in Congress for proposals that would raise corporate average fuel economy requirements as much as 10 mpg. The Bush administration's plan to restructure car CAFE requirements gently is mired in political bickering. And using engine technology to boost horsepower and mass instead of improving fuel economy has eroded the industry's credibility and political clout.
So unless automakers can find a better way to reduce fuel consumption quickly, they must get ready for tougher standards.