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GM's Wagoner Endorses Gas Tax

Just read an interesting story in the Washington Times about some statements of GM's CEO Rick Wagoner on the idea of setting a price floor for retail gasoline prices.

Surprisingly, they're at least somewhat supportive.

In a surprising turnabout, General Motors Corp. Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner said Tuesday that increasing the federal gasoline tax to guarantee a minimum price of $4 a gallon is an idea "worthy of consideration."

Few industries have been more vigorously opposed to hiking the gas tax than automakers. But GM, which is betting its future on high-priced, energy-efficient cars, has switched its historic view and is now open to the federal government setting a new, higher floor on fuel, which would act as an incentive for consumers to buy hybrid and electric cars.

"It's great that smart people are talking" about ideas to conserve energy, Mr. Wagoner told reporters Tuesday. He was referring to recent comments by Michael Jackson, the chief executive of AutoNation, who recommended a huge increase in the gas tax to encourage American consumers to buy fuel-efficient vehicles.

"Michael Jackson is a smart guy," and his idea deserves to be considered, Mr. Wagoner said at a briefing sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.

When the price of gasoline jumped above $4 a gallon in July, AutoNation, the nations largest chain of new-car dealers, had a two-day supply of Honda Civic gasoline-electric hybrids. By the end of the year, when gas prices dipped significantly, AutoNation had a 148-day supply of hybrids. Gas priced at $4 a gallon would be "a good start," Mr. Jackson said. The chairman and CEO of General Motors did not disagree.

Of course, GM doesn't want to disagree with the CEO of an important retail stakeholder but still -- it shows that the American automotive executive lonely hearts club band is changing its tune, however slowly.

TAGS: Innovation
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