Foreign automakers also wary of specific U.S. fuel economy targets

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Detroit’s foreign competitors agree with their domestic counterparts in supporting the thrust of President George W. Bush’s call for higher fuel economy rules for cars and trucks while opposing a strict target for future increases, the head of a trade association said Thursday.

As part of a plan to reduce gasoline consumption by 20% in a decade, Bush proposed on Tuesday to revamp fuel economy standards for passenger cars, and said he favored a goal of increasing fuel economy by 4% a year. Any actual increase would be set by federal administrators, a position at odds with many Democratic lawmakers and environmental groups who want automakers to meet specific numbers for future fuel economy increases.

Detroit automakers have said they support the president’s proposal in general, but oppose specific increases as damaging to their business. Mike Stanton, president of the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, the lobbying group for Toyota, Honda, Nissan and 11 other automakers, said those companies concur with Detroit.

“Four percent a year is a very aggressive number,” Stanton said. “It’s less of a challenge for some automakers than others, (but) still a big challenge for all manufacturers.”

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