Special Coverage

NADA Convention & Exposition

SAN FRANCISCO – General Motors Co. was myopic in past strident lobbying efforts against federal mandates for greater fuel efficiency, says a candid Mark Reuss, president of the auto maker’s North American operations.

Lobbying against U.S. corporate average fuel economy legislation was a short-term way of addressing the need for a long-term solution, he says at a J.D. Power Automotive Roundtable held here in conjunction with the National Automobile Dealers Assn. convention.

“We spent a lot of money lobbying on CAFE because we were primarily a truck company,” he says, referring to a time when GM’s product mixed skewed towards pickups and truck-based vehicles with low fuel economy. “I’m being very blunt.”

Now, GM offers the Chevrolet Volt, an extended-range electric vehicle. A new hybrid drivetrain bows this year on the Buick LaCrosse. Also this year, the auto maker refreshes its subcompact lineup. An upcoming eco-model Chevrolet Cruze will get 42 mpg (5.60 liters/100 km), Reuss says.

As a father, he says that environmentally “I want to leave this planet a better place for my children. Putting off those solutions was probably a serious mistake. I’ll leave it at that.”

This year, the auto industry begins stepping toward a fleet-wide fuel economy of 35.5 mpg (6.6 L/100 km) by 2016.

sfinlay@wardsauto.com