As we said earlier today, President Bush met with the CEOs of America's domestic automakers to discuss the future of domestic vehicles in America and what types of alternative fuels will power those vehicles. Bush met with Chrysler Group president and CEO Tom LaSorda, Ford Motor Company president and CEO Alan Mulally, and General Motors chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner. The White House said the scheduled half-hour meeting went for 45 minutes. Toyota and other automakers were not invited.

White House spokesperson Dana Perino said that the meeting "focused primarily on the President's 20-in-10 program. This is the program where the President is seeking to reduce gasoline consumption in America by 20 percent in 10 years. They talked about the advancements in technology, including specifically biodiesel, E85, and lithium ion batteries, and they shared optimism on cellulosic ethanol, with both the President and the CEOs agreeing that cellulosic ethanol and the technology push is the linchpin to reaching the 20-in-10 goal."

The three CEOs called the meeting "open and constructive" and said they support reducing gasoline consumption in America, mostly through biofuels (E85 and some biodiesel) but with the prospect of more advanced technologies (PHEVs and hydrogen fuel cells) obviously still on the table. Their ethanol-happy full statement is available after the jump.

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[Source: Ford, Globe and Mail, the White House]
STATEMENT: AMERICAN AUTO CEOS MEETING WITH PRESIDENT BUSH ON RENEWABLE FUELS AND ADVANCED VEHICLE TECHNOLOGIES

Joint statement attributable to Chrysler Group president and CEO Tom LaSorda, Ford Motor Company president and CEO Alan Mulally, and General Motors chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner regarding the meeting between President George W. Bush and the CEOs of America's domestic auto industry:

We appreciate the President meeting with us today on issues that are critical to reducing our nation's gasoline consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. We had an open and constructive discussion on the use of renewable and alternative fuels.

All three companies conveyed to the President their support for reducing gasoline consumption in the U.S. A significant portion of such reductions can come from the continued development and use of biofuels. We reiterated that each company stands ready to make half of its annual vehicle production E85 flexible fuel vehicles (FFV) or capable of running on biodiesel by 2012. To capitalize on these commitments, we emphasized with the President the need for increased incentives to produce and distribute biofuels.

We briefed the President about the more than 6 million FFVs on the road today and we will add over a million FFV cars and trucks in 2007 alone. We explained to the President that if all these vehicles were running on E85, they would displace more than 3.6 billion gallons of gasoline a year. And even more compelling, if all the E85 capable vehicles on the road today – along with those that GM, Ford and DaimlerChrysler have already committed to produce over the next 10 years were to run on E85 – we could displace 22 billion gallons of gasoline annually. Also, if all manufacturers made a comparable commitment to make half their annual production capable of running on biofuels, we could increase the savings to 37 billion gallons of gasoline annually in 2017.

Furthermore, we pointed out the benefits of clean diesel technology and that if all diesel vehicles today were fueled with B5 (five percent biodiesel) we could displace 1.85 billion gallons of petroleum per year; and 7.4 billion gallons per year if B20 (20 percent biodiesel) were utilized.

In order to achieve these levels of petroleum savings, we asked the President to help provide Americans with reasonable access to these fuels at a price that is competitive with gasoline. Right now there are approximately 1,100 E85 pumps in the U.S. and 1,000 biodiesel pumps, out of 170,000 gas stations. We expressed to the President that we are willing to lead the way, but we need government and fuel providers to increase infrastructure before we can make a meaningful impact.

In addition, we discussed with the President that as part of an overall national strategy to fully tap the potential of biofuels to displace petroleum, vehicle production increases must be accompanied by continuing the incentives that encourage the manufacture, distribution, and availability of biofuels and the production of flexible fuel vehicles.

We updated the President that we are working on a wide range of advanced vehicle technologies that run on alternative fuels such as E85, biodiesel, electricity and hydrogen. Plug-in hybrid vehicles can play a significant role in our transportation future. Increased funding for domestic battery research and development can help accelerate bringing these vehicles to market.

Overall, we were pleased with the exchange that we had with the President and all parties came away with an understanding of the significant, positive impact that biofuels can make on the environment and in reducing our nation's reliance on oil.

We welcome the opportunity to continue working with President Bush, his Administration, and the Congress in a bipartisan manner and to move forward on solutions to these issues while continuing to do our part to ensure America's long-standing leadership in manufacturing and innovation.

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