Hybrids Need Tax Jump-Start


Published: 16-Jan-2003

Speaking at the Automotive News World Congress, Bill Ford said the government needed to boost tax credits on hybrid electric vehicles to prime the pump for consumer sales. Automakers, he said, have no other viable alternative technology to offer in green vehicles. Ford intends to introduce its hybrid Ford Escape at the end of this year and wants incentives to help sales, since hybrids are move expensive than their thirstier brethren. Last year, the Bush administration asked for tax credits up to $4,000 for hybrid buyers and up to $8,000 for purchasers of fuel cells. That proposal was tucked into the energy bill that failed to pass muster last year. Ford is not alone in seeking tax incentives for hybrid sales. The Alliance of Automotive Manufacturers lobbied hard for the incentives last year.

Fuel cells, Ford said, are a promising technology without an infrastructure. Hybrids, on the other hand, are a working technology that is already on the street. Ford also restated his support for bringing diesels to North America.

At the same conference, Dr. Jeffrey Runge, head of the National Highway

Traffic Safety Administration said he favored higher fuel economy standards beyond the increase set for 2007. NHTSA's proposed CAFE hike would raise the average fuel economy standard for an automaker's pickups, sport utility vehicles and minivans from 20.7 mpg now to 22.2 mpg in 2007. NHTSA surveyed the automakers and found that General Motors would have the toughest time meeting the new rules, while Ford and DaimlerChrysler would meet or squeak in just below the standard. Runge dismissed automakers' complaints that safety regulations were adding weight to vehicles and lowering fuel economy.



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