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Ford Announces Plans to Improve SUV Fuel EfficiencyAired July 27, 2000 - 1:13 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Ford plans to revamp its sport utility vehicles so they won't be so gas hungry. The company says it will use advances in technology to improve the miles per gallon in its SUVs by 25 percent over the next five years. Targeted improvements include reducing the weight of the vehicle, sprucing up its aerodynamics, and increasing the efficiency of its engines and transmissions.
CNN's Ed Garsten joins us from Detroit, Michigan with more on the proposed changes.
ED GARSTEN, CNN DETROIT BUREAU CHIEF: Hi, Kyra.
Well, you really have to read between the lines on something like this because all Ford is promising is to raise the average fuel economy. So what that means is, conceivably, some of its sport utility vehicles can get the same mileage they've been getting all along while Ford produces other vehicles that get a higher mileage, therefore bringing the average down.
A car like this, the Ford Escape, it's a new sports utility vehicle that will be coming out in September. A little bit smaller than the Ford Explorer, but it is lighter and it will get some 28 1/2 miles to the gallon. And the way they've been able to accomplish that is by putting it on a car body instead of a truck body and by using lighter materials both outside and inside.
PHILLIPS: (OFF-MIKE) compromise safety, Ed?
GARSTEN: Well, that's the main thing is, how do you make a lighter vehicle without costing safety? The automakers say they can do that because newer materials are lighter, but they're also tougher and more resilient.
PHILLIPS: Why wasn't this done before?
GARSTEN: You know, a lot of it -- it's a complicated mixture of what they think the market wants, cost and purely technology. It just -- some of the stuff just hadn't been come up with until now. But they do have the technology, they do know how to make lighter, safer and more fuel-efficient vehicles. What they do now have -- they have to get the cost down because a lot of these vehicles would just cost too much right now in the marketplace.
PHILLIPS: Now, Ed, what if I have an SUB now, someone else has an SUV? Will it be the type of thing where you can bring it in and have the changes made if you already own the car?
GARSTEN: No, unfortunately, you just can't do that. Too much has to be done to the vehicle to raise the fuel economy: the body shell, the underpinnings, the engine. Everything about it would have to change. So retrofitting just wouldn't be feasible.
PHILLIPS: Well, at least the changes are in the works.
Ed Garsten, live from Detroit, thanks a lot.
GARSTEN: You bet.
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