Lutz was asked if that means he would favor higher gasoline taxes, as in Europe where taxes drive fuel to more than $5 a gallon. He said he couldn’t speak for GM, but he said he saw a lot of value in a steady tax rise to much higher levels.
“You either continue with inexpensive motor fuels and have to find other ways to incent the customer to buy hybrids and electric vehicles, such as the government credits,” he said. “Or the other alternative is a gradual increase in the federal fuel tax of 25 cents a year, which in my estimation would have the benefit of giving automobile companies a planning base, and giving families that own vehicles a planning base.”
Lutz continued, noting that if families knew that the price of gasoline were going to steadily increase over the next few years, they would change their buying habits and lean towards more fuel efficient vehicles.
However shocking this admission may be to those that have followed “Maximum” Bob Lutz and his typically anti-global warming, pro-muscle car point of view (and magazine articles reporting that he regularly takes a helicopter to work). He is realistic about the prospects of such a gas tax:
“Fuel taxation is the third rail of politics,” he said.
I was given the opportunity to speak with Bob Lutz after the reveal of the Chevy Volt. He genuinely seemed to care as much about the Volt as he did any of the GM models that were produced that year – which is to say, a lot. Whether the man believes in global warming (he doesn’t), or thinks that future vehicles will be run on alternative fuels (again no) – one can tell that the winds of change are blowing if I start agreeing with his sound bites.