Auto group to attack fuel-mileage standards

Automakers plan to attack congressional efforts to raise fuel mileage standards in a series of radio and newspaper advertisements this weekend, the unofficial start of summer driving season.

The ad campaign, sponsored by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, focuses on states with a high proportion of truck and SUV drivers to stoke grassroots opposition to a Senate bill that would raise fuel standards for cars and trucks by 10 miles per gallon over the next 10 years.

The Senate plans to take up the bill after the Memorial Day recess as part of a larger effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and wean the country off of foreign oil.

The auto group plans to spend at least $1 million on the ad buy, a spokesman said. One radio ad says the Senate bill will raise the cost to purchase a truck. Another argues that the bill could minimize consumer choice by forcing automakers to make lighter, less safe automobiles to comply with new mileage standards.

The ads are running in Delaware, Arkansas, Idaho, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Colorado.

Fuel mileage standards for automobiles are currently set at 27.5 miles per gallon, and have not been raised since 1990. The standard for light trucks is currently just above 22 miles per gallon, but is scheduled to increase to 24 miles per gallon.

Supporters argue that while higher fuel standards may raise the price of some cars and trucks, consumers will make up the difference by spending less on gasoline.