May 17, 2021
Beddinginn

Automakers In Europe Know What Needs To Be Done

Illustration for article titled Automakers In Europe Know What Needs To Be Done

Photo: Getty Images (Getty Images)

The gas tax should be raised, along with other taxes intended to curb global warming, ideas which never get much traction in America because America but Europe is a bit more receptive. Even automakers are on board.

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Now, part of the reason raising the gas tax is unpopular in America is that outside of a handful of cities — D.C., New York, Boston, and San Francisco, pretty much — it’s virtually impossible to get by without a car, and nearly all of the cars on the road are powered by gas. Further, electric cars remain prohibitively expensive for most people, and thus a higher gas tax would be a blow to the working class, most of whom don’t have many other options than to drive.

Still, as a broader policy goal, a higher gas tax — probably coupled with something like an expansion of the earned income tax credit here — along with a more robust public transportation system should remain priorities. And in Europe, where they largely have the public transportation thing down, higher gas taxes and other tax incentives to reduce carbon are exactly what automakers are calling for.

From The Wall Street Journal:

“We need to tax carbon at the pump,” Markus Duesmann, chief executive of Audi AG, said in an interview.

[…]

Herbert Diess, chief executive of Volkswagen AG, which owns Audi, has been calling for higher carbon-dioxide emissions for some time. He says the €25 price (about $29) Germany sets per ton of carbon emissions is too low and suggests Germany should price carbon more in line with Sweden, which sets the price at €100.

[…]

Daimler Truck Chief Executive Martin Daum said that the best way to create a level playing field for electric and diesel trucks in long-haul freight would be to exempt electric trucks from road tolls while raising tolls on diesel trucks to reflect the cost of the impact of their carbon emissions.

“We need cost parity between hydrogen and diesel trucks,” Mr. Daum said. “You have to switch to [charging for] CO2 and then you can play around with the rate.”

Audi, Volkswagen, and Daimler make most of their money selling internal combustion engine cars, as every automaker except Tesla does, which makes this a bit counterintuitive. Audi, Volkswagen, and Daimler, though, also know which way the wind is blowing.

So do GM and Ford, to an extent, though it’s hard (impossible) to imagine GM CEO Mary Barra or Ford CEO Jim Farley arguing for the same things as their counterparts in Europe. That is GM and Ford’s own political calculation, whether it is good for the rest of us or not.

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