Obama tells AAA his first car got him where he needed to go

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President Obama says tougher fuel economy standards will save money for American families. Image: F-oxymoron/Flickr/CC BY

President Obama talked with the Automobile Association of America earlier this week about the rising cost of gas, hybrid and electric vehicles and his very first car.

AAA’s first-ever presidential interview

The President spoke on energy issues in Cushing, Okla., Wednesday as part of his re-election campaign. Afterward, he had a first-ever presidential one-on-one with the AAA, a 110-year-old motorist support service that boasts more than 53 million members — including Obama.

Obama’s first car

The president waxed nostalgic to the auto club about his first car, which was more practical than glamorous.

“I have to confess, my first car was my grandfather’s car, which was a Ford Granada. The Ford Granada was not the peak of Detroit engineering. It rattled and it shook, and I don’t think the girls were particularly impressed when I came to pick them up in a Ford Granada. But you know what? It moved, and so I have fond memories of the fact that it got me to where I needed to go. That’s about all I can say about the Ford Granada.”

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Understands impact on family

As president, Obama told the auto club, he no longer drives himself. However, he said he understands how the gas crunch hurts families trying to make ends meet.

“I understand what folks are going through because it wasn’t that long ago that I was having to fill up my gas tank and drive to work, shuttle the kids back and forth to school or events. It takes a big bite out of folks’ paychecks.”

Approval ratings slide over gas costs

According to recent polls, Obama’s approval ratings plummeted after gas prices rose by more than 60 cents a gallon this year. The lack of approval comes despite the fact that most experts agree that, beyond opening the nation’s emergency petroleum reserves, the White House has little control over the price of gasoline.

Long-term solutions stressed

The president stressed the need to look beyond the current crunch at the pumps and to find long-term ways to curtail the nation’s thirst for petroleum.

“The most important thing I can do as the president is not to simply focus on tomorrow. It’s focusing on getting America properly aimed toward our goal of continuing to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

Stricter standards will help

Obama praised tougher fuel efficiency standards, which he says will save the average American family $8,000 in fuel costs over a vehicle’s lifetime. He also expressed his confidence that American technology can make it happen.

“If we unleash American creativity, if we properly incentivize people to think about fuel economy as part of overall design, Americans can make great cars.”

Technology needs to improve for electric vehicles

He also talked about the acceptance of vehicles using alternative energy sources. As the technology improves, Obama said, such vehicles will become more accepted by consumers.

“People need to feel confident that when they get into an electric car they’re not going to get stuck. To the extent that we start having both more efficient batteries and distribution capacity, people can feel confident that they’re never going to get stuck, or at least not any more stuck than they do when they forget to fill up and then call AAA.”

AAA said it was working on a mobile electric car recharging station that could help stranded EV drivers.

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