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Honda Stands Alone to Back Auto Mileage Rules

March 12, 2002

Environmental activists aren’t the only ones criticizing the Big 3 U.S. automakers’ opposition to a big increase in the government’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standards. Also actively undercutting the industry is one of its own, Honda Motor Co., according to an article in the Wall Street Journal. In recent weeks, the rest of the auto industry – not just the Big 3, but also Japanese car makers including Toyota Motor Corp. – has stampeded Capitol Hill to sqash calls for a big increase in the CAFE standards. Honda prefers to operate through “under-the-radar activities like bringing our engineers in and having talks with both sides of the aisle,” says Edward B. Cohen, the head of Honda’s Washington lobbying shop since September 2000. The Japanese company makes no campaign contributions, but it has been feeding information to CAFE proponents in the Senate to help them derail the industry’s fuel-economy assault. Honda’s counsel has proved crucial in emboldening a bipartisan group of senators to propose that automakers be required to raise the average fuel economy of their fleets by about 50 percent, to 36 miles per gallon by 2015 from about 24 today.
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