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For a man who was so heavily involved in bringing the Hummer H2 to the masses, Republican and Californian Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger is now seen by many as the leader behind the push for more fuel efficient cars.

Schwarzenegger has agreed to a meeting with the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which include Ford, GM, Chrysler and Toyota. The meeting is set to take place on Thursday U.S. time but not many are holding their breaths. Schwarzenegger recently told the American auto industry to “get off your butt” and reach California’s fuel-economy standards.

Although the Bush administration is doing its best to stop the Californian regulations becoming a reality, 17 other U.S. states have already passed or are considering adopting California’s rules for cutting greenhouse emissions from vehicles.

Meanwhile the American auto industry has spent millions warning of the dangers, suggesting such drastic changes would force production cuts and threaten the survival of weaker automakers.

The aim is to reach a fuel economy rating of 35 m.p.g. or 6.72 L/100KM by 2020, something that many European manufacturers have already achieved with several models. Although the laws apply to trucks and SUVs as well.

“The meeting is s part of our effort to acknowledge concerns about greenhouse-gas emissions and fuel economy, while at the same time, tout the energy bill and its aggressive fuel-economy increases and carbon dioxide reductions” said Alliance spokesman Charles Territo.

U.S. Federal officials have recently estimated that in order to reach those fuel figures, the Detroit automakers would have to spend USD $30.5 billion by 2015 just to meet the 7L/100km interim target.

Unsurprisingly all major automakers strongly oppose California’s rules, stating unrealistic expectations that will force them to limit sales of many models. There are law suits already in place against the state of California to block the rules.

Schwarzenegger Prius

The man who has spearheaded the attack on the manufacturers is Schwarzenegger, a surprising ally of the greens.

“California may be doing more to save the U.S. auto industry than anyone else, because we are pushing them to change, so that if they want to sell their cars in the Golden State, they should change the technology.” Schwarzenegger said.

Nearly all manufacturers are already investing heavily in preparation of the new regulations. Technologies range from Hybrid/Electric to Hydrogen and solar.




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