GM Announcement Means Cars and Trucks Will Continue to Get Cleaner and More Efficient

January 06, 2003
Greg Lackner

CHICAGO, IL: General Motors is expected to announced today it will offer hybrid versions of several of its trucks and SUVs in the next five years and hopes to make fuel cell cars in significant volumes by 2010. This is good news for everyone concerned about air quality.

Just as importantly, it confirms what some free-market environmentalists have been saying about the future of cars and trucks: That innovation, competition, and consumer choice will be more dependable ways to make cars and trucks cleaner in the future than passing more government regulations.

“We’ve reached about as far as we can go with a regulatory approach to reducing car and truck emissions,” says Joseph Bast, president of The Heartland Institute and coauthor of a June 2000 study on the environmental impacts of cars and trucks. “Cars and trucks today emit just 1 or 2 percent as many emissions as they did in the 1970s, thanks to a wide range of improvements in engines and exhaust technologies. Attempting to achieve further reductions by mandating ‘zero emissions vehicles,’ as California has done, or raising national fuel economy standards will be ineffective and enormously expensive. Higher CAFE standards, for example, would increase highway fatalities by forcing auto makers to build lighter vehicles.”

“The better approach,” according to Bast, “is to allow car and truck manufacturers to introduce new choices in response to consumer demand and technological progress. GM, DaimlerChrysler, and Ford have all announced plans to offer hybrid versions of some of their vehicles in the coming years, and together they have spent over $1 billion on fuel-cell technologies. Without mandates or punitive new rules or fines, car and truck manufacturers are working to protect the environment and drivers.”



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For further information contact Heartland Public Affairs Director Greg Lackner at 312/377-4000, 773/489-6447 or lackner@heartland.org