USA: GM says Americans need not worry about higher federal petrol tax
General Motors on Friday reportedly said Americans had no need to worry about talk of higher federal petrol taxes being used to curb their dependency on foreign oil.
"I think the last like nine politicians that proposed that were summarily elected out of office. So that dog don't hunt in this country, I don't believe," GM chairman and chief executive Rick Wagoner told Reuters.
Senior Ford officials, led by chief executive Bill Ford Jr., reportedly have said they would support higher fuel taxes in exchange for incentives to promote the use of small cars and more energy-efficient vehicles.
"If you really want to reduce gasoline consumption, you have to tax it," Ford president Nick Scheele told Reuters on Thursday. "There is no incentive today for people to buy small cars."
But Wagoner told the news agency any increase in petrol tax was highly unlikely - the federal tax currently stands at about 18 cents per gallon while state taxes average around 25 cents a gallon.
"I suspect you and I will be talking about this, as we have been for the last 15 years, for the next 15 years," he reportedly said.
Reuters noted that GM and Ford both make most of the profits from their automotive operations from sales of gas-guzzling pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles and have powerful lobbying interests in Washington.
Wagoner reportedly acknowledged that he was concerned about the recent run-up in oil prices, but he also said they did not appear driven by market fundamentals.
"If you look at the production and the demand levels, it's hard to piece those two together and get today's pricing levels," he said. "I think some of that is all about the so-called premium for uncertainty, the terrorism situation."