NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Nobody Likes Gore's Pet Car Project

June 28, 1999

Critics from all sides are deploring Vice President Al Gore's project to produce by 2004 a car that gets 80 miles to the gallon. Both environmentalist and taxpayer watchdog groups are angry that the program -- which began in fiscal 1995 -- is giving billions of dollars to car companies at taxpayers' expense.

  • This fiscal year, the government will spend $240 million on the program, which is expected to cost more than $2 billion by the time a vehicle is developed.
  • The money is going to DaimlerChrysler Corp., Ford and General Motors -- which are also splitting research costs with the government.
  • "They are spending our money and we're not getting anything in return except dirtier cars," complains Anna Aurilo, a staff scientist with U.S. Public Interest Research Group.
  • Jason Mark, senior transportation analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists, contends that the vehicle's diesel emissions will be so high the cars will be illegal for sale in 2004 in California -- which is considering banning diesel exhaust because it is a carcinogen.

Critics also note that Japanese auto companies soon will introduce in the U.S. vehicles that go twice as far on a gallon of gas as conventional cars. Moreover, the U.S. program does not require the auto companies to sell the vehicles, just produce a prototype.

This led Dan Becker of the Sierra Club to ask: "Who is going to drive it? Are we all going to share it?"

Gore is said to be intimately involved in the program, doing everything from meeting at homes with the companies' chief executives to personally awarding medals to engineers for research progress.

Source: Heather Skale, "Gore's Efficient-Car Project Fuels Detractors," Washington Times, June 26, 1999.


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