WASHINGTON -- Automakers' incremental moves to boost fuel efficiency are doing nothing to cut average fuel use by new cars and trucks, a government report suggests.
Consumer purchases of heavier and more powerful vehicles remain the main reason for the lack of improvement.
Toyota's top U.S. executive, Jim Press, was in Washington last week promising steps to ease energy consumption. He said Toyota may sell vehicles that burn ethanol or use plug-in hybrid power.
Toyota officials have criticized both technologies. But competition among automakers to show concern for the environment, if not making measurable progress, may explain the reversals.
Another industry leader, Metaldyne Corp. CEO Tim Leuliette, also was in the nation's capital last week. Leuliette called for prompt action on hydrogen power as a lasting fix for energy and environmental problems. He urged government and industry to set aside rivalries and go beyond incremental steps.
But Congress is so politically hamstrung that it cannot even pass a bill giving regulators authority to overhaul fuel economy standards for cars. Those standards have not changed since 1990.
Lawmakers have proposed dozens of other bills and amendments that would set higher fuel economy standards -- so far, to no avail. The latest Senate measure would raise standards about 1 mpg per year after 2009.