CAFE Or Gas Tax? How Best To Increase Fuel Efficiency.

The current government strategy to increase fuel efficiency is to mandate it through increases in the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, currently set for 35.5 mpg by 2016. In this piece, auto executives suggest a better way - using gas taxes.

When gas topped $4 a gallon, Priuses were not to be found on any of Toyota's lots. Now, not only are plenty of hybrids available, but light trucks are once again outselling the more fuel-efficient passenger cars.

"Mike Jackson, CEO of AutoNation, the largest automotive retail group in the U.S, suggests steadily increasing the gas tax until a gallon costs between $4 and $5 per gallon -- still far less than the price of gas in Europe. Jerry York, a former GM board member, agreed with Jackson's point. Both agree that the key is to gradually increase the fuel tax to slowly increase fuel prices..."

"What you have to do is to it in a manner that is slow enough and predictable enough that vehicle selection and choices by people over the cycle can be made in a logical way," said Tim Leuliette, CEO of parts supplier Dura Automotive."

From "Gasoline Price Causing Big-Vehicle Sales": "When the average gasoline price is $2.66 a gallon, according to news reports on the most recent Lundberg Survey, the message to the consumer is "Buy that big vehicle."

Thanks to Patricia Matajcek

Full Story: Auto Executives Believe Raising Gas Tax Best Way to Increase Fuel Economy



Neither: Get rid of free parking!

Call me a free-marketeer if you will, but why not fight transportation inefficiencies by revealing more of the actual cost of driving? Free parking encourages people to drive short distances when they might otherwise walk, and to drive alone when they might otherwise carpool.

Improved CAFE standards and the gas tax work to make sure that every mile traveled is, on average, more fuel efficient than it otherwise might be by (partially) internalizing the social costs of driving inefficient vehicles; neither does a whole heck of a lot to increase the efficiency of our transportation system as a whole.

Parking ratios are locally regulated, but there's no reason why some rational standards couldn't be adopted at the federal level and tied to highway/transportation funding (the way the minimum drinking age is).

Alice Savage, Planner

Irvin Dawid's picture

Parking Charges

I'm confused here.
The topic of the article is about how to make the auto fleet more efficient, not to reduce VMT, or make land use more efficient - so I don't understand why you mention eliminating free parking here. In essence, the topic is vehicle emission technology, and the best method to ensure the vehicle fleet efficiency is increased in order to reduce GHGs.

Yes, an important issue is reducing VMT - but that's not the focus here.
Irvin Dawid, Palo Alto, CA

Thanks for admitting your confusion

You are confused because the only reason your pro-auto troll post got on here is that is falsely appears to be "pro-green." Alice correctly ignores your toadying to fossil-fuels and properly addresses the ACTUAL REAL problem that everyone else is talking about and which you are trying to sidetrack. Come on, Planetizen... you can do better... you don't need this.

Vehicle Efficiency is a Relevant Issue

The post is only "pro-auto" inasmuch as it suggests private automobiles will not be going away anytime soon. The article does not propose that the solution to the whole "problem" is more cars; it merely gives an auto industry point of view on how to encourage Americans to choose efficient vehicles over inefficient vehicles. It doesn't claim that auto executives have the last word on the matter, though it's true that it doesn't mention what other voices are saying.

Fuel-efficient cars are one of many components under the "green" umbrella, and whether transportation should depend on private automobiles at all is a separate question under that umbrella.

Goal is to reduce total use, not increase efficiency

Hi Irvin,

I was assuming in my response that the underlying goal of both the CAFE standards and the gas tax is ultimately to reduce the total use of fossil fuels used and greenhouse gases released, not just the amount used/released per mile.

In trying to address total usage, measures to improve efficiency will always be insufficient, and maybe even counter-productive, if the total number of vehicle-miles traveled continues to rise.

Alice Savage, Planner


Sorry for the comment that was more heat than light.

Better cars = more cars, more sprawl.... meant to say.


The combination fee-rebate plan proposed by RMI isn't a total solution, but it is a good start because it is revenue-neutral.


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