Margo Oge, EPA director-office of transportation and air quality, has made a plea to the auto industry to end the current horsepower wars that have produced such vehicles as the 620-hp Corvette ZR1. Instead, she hopes the industry, specifically domestic automakers, will start a new war, a green war, to create the "most affordable and desirable, low carbon-vehicle each year." Such a challenge, she claims, could help spark economic growth and see the transportation sector "reclaim the mantle of the country's economic growth over the next decade."

Her arguments, which can be read in more detail at Ward's Auto, are well reasoned, and while automakers can hardly deny their part in an arms race for more horsepower, many are also on the front lines of a battle to make green vehicles that are more desirable than their competitors. One need only look at the squabbling that goes back and forth between GM and Toyota over which is better, a series hybrid like the Volt or a parallel hybrid like the Prius. The latter two automakers, being the largest full-line automakers in the world, are forced to deal with the dissonance of producing desirable, high-horsepower sports cars and full-size trucks while at the same time being on the cutting edge of new green technology. It's not hypocrisy, it's the reality of offering many different types of vehicles to the widest range of customers.

And despite Oge's plea, automakers are keenly aware of what needs to be done in order to meet new, stricter CAFE standards by 2020. GM has already cancelled plans for a new V8 and Ford has practically committed itself to replacing eight-cylinder engines with more efficient turbocharged, direct-inject V6 powerplants. The rub is that any progress made by an automaker to make its vehicles more green cannot happen at the expense of performance, reliability and comfort. We want our new cars to be as good as they were last year in every way, with better fuel economy and cleaner emissions. It's a tall order, but don't worry Margo. Both federal regulations and consumer pressure guarantee they're working hard on it.

[Source: Ward's Auto]