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Big Three Tell Bush They'll Boost Output of Ethanol Cars

The chief executives of the Big Three auto makers told President Bush they will work with the administration to cut oil consumption by 20% over the next ten years, CNBC's Scott Cohn reported.

General Motor's Rick Wagoner, Ford Motor's Alan Mulally and Tom LaSorda of DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler Group all said they are committed to the president's plan during a meeting at the White House. In addition to doubling production of ethanol-powered vehicles by 2010, they plan to have half of their production "E85 ethanol-capable" by 2012, Wagoner told reporters afterward.

Flex-fuel vehicles can run on both conventional and alternative fuels, while E85 ethanol is a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline.

"This makes a big difference and there is nothing that can be done which can reduce the growth in foreign oil… like using E85 and taking advantage of what's there today," Wagoner added.

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CNBC's Cohn said the Big Three is endorsing the plan because, in part, they are concerned that Congress will legislate an increase in fuel economy standards -- something they've been fighting against for many years.

"The hope is that under the president's plan, it would be something more flexible and regulated under the Transportation Department," Cohn said.

"If you want to reduce gasoline usage, like I believe we need to do so for national security reasons as well as environmental concerns, the consumer has to be in a position to make a rational choice," President Bush told reporters. "So I appreciate very much the fact that American auto manufacturers recognize the reality of the world in which we live, and are using new technologies to give the consumers different options."

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