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AAM Fights Mileage Mandates

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DETROIT The auto industry takes on the government beginning this weekend with an ad campaign that warns consumers that proposed increases in fuel standards would drive up the price of vehicles.

The series of radio spots and print ads, via Glover Park Group, Washington, will run in 10 states. The ads also state that a Senate bill that would impose a requirement that automakers raise fuel economy by 40 percent by 2020 would make drivers less safe because automakers would have to build smaller cars in order to conform to the mandate.

The ads will drive consumers to a Web site, www.drivecongress.com, which also provides a toll-free number that will help consumers connect with their congressional representatives. The campaign was put together by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM), the D.C.-based trade association that represents GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota and five other automakers.

The campaign is established with the potential to expand as the standing of senators becomes known. The Senate is scheduled to vote on the bill in June. The House is working on its own bill on enhancing fuel standards.

"We are starting in 10 states and with radio, but it can be moved to other states and to television," said Charles Territo, a rep at the AAM. "The list of states will contract and expand as the positions of the members of Congress become known."

He said the cost of the campaign is upward of $1 million at this point.

One radio spot features some two-way, regular-guy conversation about trucks and the pending bill's fallout.

"When you buy that new pickup, it's really going to jack up the price," one of the guys says. ""I'm not sure they get it," he adds, referring to the members of Congress who support the bill.

Another ad has another two-way conversation between two women, who lament the pending new standards and propose that pursuing alternative fuels is the way to go.

"I wish they were spending more time talking about alternative fuels...we need to change the fuels we put in our cars, that's how we will make American safer."

The states hearing the first wave of the ads are Arkansas, Delaware, Idaho, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.