Following the big change that swept through American politics on Nov. 4, there has been a lot of celebration in a lot of places. Over at the Auto Allliance, the association made up of BMW Group, Chrysler LLC, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz USA, Mitsubishi Motors, Porsche, Toyota and Volkswagen, president and CEO Dave McCurdy was spending at least some time thinking about what sorts of opportunities and challenges the Obama Administration and a more Democratic Congress will bring to the automakers. AutoblogGreen spoke with him briefly about these issues while he was running around Washington.
ABG: Which parts of Obama's energy policy are most in line with what the Auto Alliance's goals? Where do you see the Alliance disagreeing with the Administration?

McCurdy: President Elect Obama recognizes the importance of the auto industry to the national economy. We look forward to working with his administration to ensure that the auto auto industry is on the leading edge of the new green energy economy.

ABG: Which parts of McCain's energy/auto plans do you think President Obama should consider adopting?

McCurdy: To help enhance our energy security and reduce our dependence on foreign oil we need to take steps to diversify and expand our alternative fuels infrastructure.

Interview continues after the break.

ABG: What changes, if any, do you see happening to the EPA under the Obama administration?

McCurdy: The EPA should be guided by sound science and effective policies that protect the health and welfare of the American public. For years the auto industry has worked closely with the EPA on a wide range of issues from collection of mercury switches and ultra low sulfur fuels to the stringent Tier 2 emissions regulations. We expect to continue this collaboration under the new administration.

ABG: In May 2007, Obama said the American auto companies hadn't done enough to lessen America's dependence on foreign oil. What discussions has the Auto Alliance had with the Obama team since then on the topic? What discussions would you like to have?

McCurdy: During the campaign President Elect Obama has had an opportunity to visit several production facilities and learn more about the auto industry and how we are working to bring cleaner, safer and more fuel efficient vehicles to market Under the Energy Independence and Security Act, vehicles sold in the U.S. will average at least 35 mpg by 2020. To begin meeting these challenges we need the certainty of a single national standard set by the federal government, fast-tracking of the loan guarantees to help automakers retool for the next generation of fuel-efficient autos, and an economic stimulus plan that includes steps to help consumers get back into auto showrooms, such as increased credit availability and efforts to spur consumer sales.

ABG: We know that one of the big components of Obama's energy plan is to have a million U.S.-built plug-in hybrid cars on the road by 2015? What will it take to reach that many PHEVs in seven short years? Does the Alliance think this is a feasible goal?

McCurdy: It took more than 10 years for 1 million hybrid electric vehicles to be sold worldwide. While several manufacturers have announced future introduction of plug in hybrids none will be available before 2010 and all manufacturers have cautioned against expecting these vehicles to be immediately available in large volumes. One million by 2015 will be difficult but it doesn't mean we aren't go to try.

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