06/19/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Obama's Roadmap for the Auto Industry

Today, the Obama administration announced it will be creating a national program on emissions to replace a patchwork quilt of conflicting state regulations. We have supported more stringent standards (we supported the 2007 Energy Bill that raised federal emissions standards by a record 40%), and we support this challenging new federal program. A single program will allow us to focus our resources on meeting the challenge we all face.

But you should know that the auto industry has been working on this for quite some time. We now offer 130 models that get at least 30 MPG, and more than 35 hybrid and clean diesel models. However, it takes many years to bring a car from idea to market, so this only represents products we were working on many years ago. The products we will bring you in years to come will put us well ahead of the national curve in GHG reductions.

The auto industry will do our part to address the problems of climate change.

Fortunately, we believe we have a great leader in the White House. President Obama recently spoke about his desire to see the industry "making fuel-efficient clean-energy cars that will meet the needs of the future market." We want the same.

The long-term planning needed to make these automobiles, and the even cleaner models of the future, is easiest when we don't have to jump through three sets of hoops to comply with conflicting regulations from the EPA, the NHTSA, and various states. That confused approach to standards only complicates what should be a straightforward national goal of tackling climate change.

So we're delighted that President Obama has fulfilled his campaign promise to bring leadership on these issues to Washington. The auto industry is committed to achieving our promises, as well.

But climate change is not a problem that can be solved in DC and Detroit. It involves all of us.

A short time ago, the Huffington Post's Sam Stein reported on some of President Obama's remarks:

"I don't accept the conventional wisdom that suggests that the American people are unable or unwilling to participate in a national effort to transform the way we use energy," he said. "I don't believe that the only thing folks are capable of doing is just paying their taxes. I disagree, I think the American people are ready to be part of a mission. I believe that."

We believe our customers are ready to be a part of that mission, which is why we launched the EcoDrivingUSA campaign to educate drivers on how to cut their energy use and emissions no matter what they're driving now. Cutting gas costs by double digits adds up to some pretty important savings. President Obama's advice to keep your tires properly inflated is actually a very simple and effective measure.

We believe the president also shares our appreciation of the importance of a sensible long-term plan for the US auto industry. He has said, "I believe that the U.S. should have a strong auto industry," in part because "the auto industry is a major part" of the economic transition in his vision for the country. He went on to say,

"I look at this from the perspective of how can I create a strong, viable, competitive auto industry that is giving workers an opportunity to build a great product, take pride in that product, and continue to support their families and build communities that are strong."

President Obama has demonstrated real leadership on these issues. Success will require a great deal of ongoing commitment from government to support the new infrastructure and encourage consumers to embrace new technologies, but we have the road map we need to succeed.