Steane Klose | May 7, 2008

California’s ‘Governator’ Arnold Schwarzenegger is gearing up to butt heads with North America’s Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. The Alliance represents a number of auto manufacturers including the ‘Detroit 3’ and Toyota. The issue on the agenda is California’s upcoming rules which are likely to set a fuel efficiency standard of around 40.5mpg a target that has to be achieved by 2016.

The rest of North America is covered by the new 35mpg by 2020 CAFE standards but individual states do have the option of voluntarily adopting California’s stricter code should they so desire. And it appears that many might, with 17 other states said to be considering adopting the harsher Californian standards. When combined the 17 states and California account for more than half of the new vehicle market in North America and for the local manufacturers, thats a big cause for concern.

With carmakers already struggling to deal with the 35mpg CAFE standards the idea of increasing the efficiency required from new vehicles and reducing the time in which they have to comply seems ludicrous. Some manufacturers say it simply can’t be done.

The Detroit News is reporting that the Alliance does not expect to sway the Governator in just one meeting, but they will point out just how difficult meeting the new requirements would be and what impact it is likely to have on the economy and smaller manufacturers.

As far as Arnie is concerned, the Californian push for tougher standards will force change on carmakers and the result will be a more efficient industry producing more efficient cars – and its difficult not to agree.

“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,” said Schwarzenegger.

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