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U.S. automakers ready for gas hikes

Feb. 26, 2011 at 2:49 PM

DETROIT, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Executives from U.S. automakers Ford and General Motors said their companies were in good shape even if gas prices continue to rise.

"We're much better positioned today than we were at the last spike in 2008," said Ford and Lincoln general marketing manager John Felice, the Detroit Free Press reported Saturday.

The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday granted one version of the 2012 Ford Focus a rating of 40 mpg for highway driving. It is the fourth Ford vehicle to hit the 40 mpg mark.

This week, GM's CEO Dan Akerson said, "I'm very happy to say that by the end of this year we will have four very good entries into the compact segment with high mileage."

But U.S. automakers are still looking at a financial squeeze as they emphasis smaller vehicles, which have less of a profit margin than trucks and SUVs.

"It's safe to say that the domestic automakers will be disproportionally impacted by higher fuel prices," said industry analyst Kirk Ludtke, senior vice president at CRT Capital Group.

"Higher fuel prices are going to be bad for everyone in the industry," he said.

With production curtailed in Libya due to political chaos in the country this week, oil prices gained 13 percent this week and the national average price of gas jumped 14 cents, reaching $3.28 per gallon on Friday.

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