Jon Coifman, 202-289-2404; Craig Noble, 415-875-6100
U.S. Automaker Enters Technology Race Against Japanese Competitors as Gas Prices, Oil Security Fears Leave Gas-Guzzlers Stalled on Dealer Lots
Statement by Roland Hwang, vehicles policy director at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), on today's production launch of the 36-mpg hybrid-powered Escape SUV at Ford Motor Company's Kansas City assembly plant
SAN FRANCISCO (August 5, 2003) - "This is the right technology at the right time for the American auto industry. High gas prices and serious concerns about energy security are accelerating consumer demand for better choices and real solutions. Car companies that want to survive, and thrive, in the global market must get into the hybrid business. Smart car companies have to get into the game quickly. If they don't, their competitors will. Ford is the first U.S. carmaker to deliver a product to market that uses the efficient, clean technology we expect to increasingly dominate the 21st century market.
"The gas-guzzling SUVs that used to fatten Detroit's balance sheets are piling up in record numbers on dealer lots, despite thousands of dollars in costly manufacturer incentives. Meanwhile Japanese hybrids are flying out the showroom door. It's time to get serious if we want to keep good, well-paying auto manufacturing jobs in this country. The hybrid Escape is a good first step.
"America is spending $200,000 a minute on foreign oil, much of it coming from places that are unfriendly, unstable, or both. We can't drill our way out of the problem: Sixty-five percent of the world's oil reserves are in the Persian Gulf. The only real answer is an energy policy that reduces our oil dependence using better, more efficient technology in every new car, truck and SUV."
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