CEO’s from GM, Ford and DaimlerChrysler are asking the Bush administration for additional help in developing alternative fuels including hydrogen. The automakers say that even though the price of a barrel of oil ($52) and gallon of gasoline have fallen, this is no time to lose focus on developing and promoting hydrogen as a long-range fuel source for the transportation industry.
GM CEO Rick Wagoner, Ford CEO Alan Mulally and DaimlerChrysler CEO Tom LaSorda spoke at the Automotive News World Congress in Dearborn, Michigan yesterday stating that oil will not stay cheap and will instead rise to European levels within the near future. Wagoner says the government can encourage consumers to buy alternative fuel vehicles through tax credits, fuel subsidies and other financial methods of encouragement.
Metaldyne Corporation CEO Tim Leuliette has once again called for the unpopular idea of putting a hefty tax on gasoline in order to pay for more development of hydrogen and fuel cell technology. Leuliette called for taxing the price of gasoline up to $5 per gallon, which would be on par with what many drivers in European countries pay.
If Leuliette had been paying attention to this last November’s election in California, however, he would realize that voters emphatically do not want additional taxes on gasoline. In California’s Proposition 87, voters resoundingly said “No” when they believed the big oil companies’ advertisements that said consumers would be paying higher taxes at the pump in order to fuel alternative energy research. Consumers already think that gasoline prices are too high and do not want the added burden of additional taxes at the pump.
While additional money is needed at the federal and state level for hydrogen research and development, taxing consumers directly is not the way and other less visible ways of appropriating the finances will be needed.