Bush to Confer with Auto Executives

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President Bush meets Monday with the heads of the major U.S. automakers. The industry received little attention from Mr. Bush until this year's State of the Union speech, when he urged them to help cut U.S. dependence on foreign oil.


Representatives from the major domestic car companies are in Washington today to meet with President Bush. The visit by the CEOs of GM, Ford and the U.S. arm of Daimler Chrysler comes at a time when the administration appears more willing to work with carmakers.

NPR's Jack Speer reports.

JACK SPEER: There was a time not so long ago when the heads of GM, Ford and Chrysler couldn't get a meeting at the White House, even though they were closing plants and laying off workers. But last November the president finally sat down with the domestic automakers, and more recently in a State of the Union address, Mr. Bush laid out an ambitious agenda to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

President GEORGE W. BUSH: Tonight I ask Congress to join me in pursuing a great goal. Let's build on the work we've done and reduce gasoline usage in the United States by 20 percent in the next ten years.

(Soundbite of applause)

SPEER: And achieving that goal will in large part depend on cooperation from Detroit. The domestic automakers have pledged to double their production of cars and trucks capable of running on corn-based ethanol or bio-diesel to two million vehicles by 2010.

But producing all those vehicles is one thing. Filling them up is another. Of the nation's 170,000 service stations, only around one percent offer E85, the ethanol gas mix many flex fuel vehicles run on. That's expected to be on one of the main topics of discussion at today's White House meeting.

Jack Speer, NPR News, Washington.

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