Planet Gore

Dr. Lutz’s Gas Tax Snake Oil

Like President Barack Obama and his EnergySec sidekick Dr. Chu, Chevy Volt designer “Maximum Bob” Lutz yearns for Euro-style high gas prices. “People say politically it can’t be done. . . in the United States,” said Lutz on Detroit radio Monday, holding up high-gas tax European nations as leaders in the fight for oil independence from OPEC.

But despite $8 a gallon gas prices, Europe today is more dependent on foreign oil than ever.

Since 2001, gas prices in Germany, for example, have more than doubled, from $3.60 a gallon to over $8 a gallon. Yet European dependence on oil imports has grown from 74 percent of consumption to 84 percent of consumption according to Eurostat (Germany is 97 percent dependent on foreign oil).

Lutz’s campaign is no doubt a self-serving ploy to increase demand for his pet Volt — but he also wraps himself in the moral imperative of, not global warming, but national security. He claims high gas taxes will wean America from oil. True? Again, Europe is instructive. The doubling of gas prices should, by Lutz’s logic, have dried up European demand for oil — but it has not. Gas and diesel-powered cars remain the dominant form of transportation despite more than a decade of hybrid vehicle availability. Why? Because internal combustion engines remain the most cost-effective technology for consumers even in congested European nations.

Meanwhile, all that taxation — and its twin brother, regulation — have strangled European productivity with per capita income now just 70 percent of the U.S. as less-efficient government takes 45 percent of gross domestic product (compared to the 25 percent (and rising) in the U.S.).

Read more at The Michigan here.

Henry Payne — Henry Payne is the auto critic for the Detroit News.

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