Did you hear that? It was the sound of fourteen gauntlets being thrown down by import automakers in the halls of Congress. That's the number of foreign car makers including Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and Hyundai that have said they can meet a CAFE standard of 35 MPG -- they just can't do it by 2020 and request "several more years." How many more is several? No one says, but it's a start.

The group in question is the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, which has decided to stop trying to fight the 35 MPG standard that's being proposed. Mike Stanton, president of the group, has called that figure "a pretty sacred number" on Capitol Hill." That group, though, is different than the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which is the Big Three, Toyota, and five others. They say the Association's position isn't at odds with theirs, which makes sense because no one is saying that 35 MPG isn't achievable. Everyone just wants more time to do it, and again, the Association hasn't said how much additional time it wants.

The import makers haven't decided whether they still want to fight the merging of car and truck standards into one single standard for an automaker's entire fleet. It will continue to fight Congress' wish that more cars run on mostly ethanol, and it doesn't want to keep certifying domestically-made and imported cars separately. We would tell you that the debate over federal CAFE standards should come to an end later this year as some analysts claim, but we have little faith a final agreement will be reached.

[Source: Auto News, sub req'd]