We can hardly believe our ears! In an interview with Detroit News, General Motors CEO Dan Akerson called for a $1 tax increase on gasoline to help car manufacturers sell more fuel efficient vehicles. The statement, which is sure to shock the auto industry and Republicans in Congress, was Akerson’s way of telling those in Washington that he — and others in the auto industry — believe that higher gas prices, not fuel efficiency standards, are the best way to get more low-emissions cars on the road.
Akerson’s point is that you have to give consumers a reason to buy more fuel efficient vehicles, while also ramping up production on them. If car makers are meant to produce more low-emission cars but people are still buying SUV’s, you’re going to hurt the auto makers. If the government hikes the gas tax — which most European nations already do — people will naturally gravitate towards cars that don’t cost them an arm and a leg at the gas pump. GM already has the best-selling plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, the Chevy Volt, and one of the most fuel efficient and best selling compact car on the market right now — the Chevy Cruze.
Though the Federal tax on gas is only 18.4 cents a gallon right now, Akerson said he will not be pushing this idea through to Congress officially — though he would completely support it if it came to fruition. “As a company, we understand that’s a decision that resides with Congress and policymakers,” he said. Paul Ballew, who is the chief economist at insurer Nationwide — he used to be a director of sales analysis at GM — said that this idea is a popular one in the auto industry even though it’s not talked about often. He added, however, that it’s not likely to become a reality, “they’re not going to get it though, because that would take a lot of sanity in Washington and we’re not going to see that,” he said.