Ford Motor Company CEO Bill Ford Jr. has told reporters that a meeting involving himself, Rick Wagoner of General Motors Corp, Thomas LaSorda of Chrysler, and U.S. president George W. Bush, has been arranged for May 18th 2006 at the White House.
White House spokespeople said they could not confirm nor deny that the meeting had been scheduled, adding that it was rare for the president to schedule meetings that far in advance.
Representatives of fourth ranked automaker, Toyota, whose new North American plant projects are said to be underway, said they have not yet received an invitation to the meeting.
According to those close to the group, the agenda will include the growing ethanol issue, health care benefits which are currently adding hundreds of dollars to North American products, and also currency issues with Japan.
Bill Ford is said to be something of an environmentalist, who will be strongly championing the ethanol issue during the talks.
Ethanol, which in the U.S. is largely derived from corn, is mixed in most instances with about 15 per cent conventional gasoline, and is a much cleaner option, which could reduce dependence on oil.
“If the goal is to drive ethanol, you have to have it priced attractively,” Ford said. That is a problem because the United States has only 600 stations that dispense ethanol-based fuel, versus about 176,000 gasoline stations.”
Bush apparently raised the ire of the big three when he made comments during a speech that the solution to Detroit’s economic woes lay in the companies building “relevant” vehicles, and not in a 1979 style congressional bail-out.
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