Lutz says U.S. has little incentive to buy fuel efficient cars

Bob Lutz has always been a vocal opponent of the new CAFE standards, but his most adamant point to date is that, simply, Americans won’t buy more fuel efficient cars unless gas rockets up to European price levels. That would mean eight dollars a gallon or so.

According to Lutz, what the new regulations will do is raise vehicle prices and lower new car sales. In regards to changing consumer attitude he says “we refuse to let the price of fuel rise gradually in the United States and therefore we fail to induce change in consumer behavior,” and adds “If for the last 15 years we”d had a slow but sure rise in federal fuel taxation of, say, 15 cents a gallon per year — that would have gradually put the customer in the equation.”

Due to the new technology and materials required to improve mileage he states “that will cause more people to hang on to the vehicles they have longer, slowing down new sales growth, which is exactly counter to the intended effect,” Lutz said.

Lutz feels that E85 ethanol is the real way toward lowering U.S. dependence on foreign fuel. Not only will E85 make for an easier transition for Americans, but it’s better for the environment, won’t cost as much extra as diesel or other solutions, and there are already 6 million E85 capable cars currently on the road according to Lutz.

He adds the bigger problem is that ethanol is not as readily available. By 2020, if all the vehicles that the big three commit to make E85 capable run on E85, 29 billion gallons or 18% of the gasoline usage in 2020 can be reduced.

He is careful to mention that GM’s commitment to electric cars with lithium ion batteries is still a good long-term solution, but that it would take much longer to put enough on the road to make as much of a difference.

So what do you guys think? Will CAFE fall flat, raising prices and failing to reduce our oil addiction? Can E85 become the most viable solution? Have at it in the comments section below.

 

Source: AutoWeek

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Chris Chin

Chris Chin is the Editor-In-Chief of egmCarTech and is a regular contributor to Automobile Magazine.

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