The blunt and effective Robert Lutz of General Motors, an executive who inspires both love (he’s a product genius and calls things as he sees them) and hate (he bluntly calls things as he sees them, even when unpopular, as when he ridiculed the idea of global warming), again seems to be suggesting what many analysts have been recommending for years – that a gas tax would be good for US automakers.
As gas prices have dropped, Americans have again rapidly forgotten about $4 per gallon gas and automotive fuel economy. Hybrid sales, for example, are down more than 50%, far more than the overall market drop of about 30%. The automakers, scolded just weeks ago by a Congress who said Detroit was out of step in not having enough fuel efficient vehicles, has rushed such products to market and is now getting killed in sales for having too many of them.
Lutz, understandably frustrated, uttered what had to be two of the best quotes of last week to the NY Times, essentially calling for a gas tax by not calling for one:
“Far be it for me to be the first auto executive to call for a gas tax… But right now, it’s like fighting obesity by requiring clothing manufacturers to make nothing but small sizes… Every six months we get called stupid for having the wrong products.“