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Electric vehicles needs higher oil taxes – Lutz

Paying the price: Plug-in cars such as Volt need a helping hand to gain acceptance, says GM exec.

GM vice-chairman says electric vehicles will only be successful if oil prices rise

7 Dec 2009


MAKING consumers pay more for their petrol or diesel is probably the only way to ensure the successful mainstream take-up of electric vehicles.

This is according to GM vice chairman Bob Lutz, speaking to a packed media conference at the 2009 Los Angles Auto Show last week.

Mr Lutz argued that a palpable financial incentive was the only real way people would be encouraged to take the leap into electric vehicle ownership – especially in difficult economic times.

“One of the prime things that has to happen long term for any of the expensive electrically driven technology to have a true commercial success as opposed to a novelty success (or convincing the public to) make a true financial sacrifice in order to protect the environment, so the cost effectiveness of the technology has to improve.

“And a hindrance to doing that is low gasoline prices. Like it or not, they are on a tight budget, and they are not going to pay ten of thousands of dollars more in order to save hundreds of dollars a year on gasoline – they will not.

“So, over time, if the country is serious about cutting back oil consumption and reducing petroleum’s impact on the environment – what we are going to have to do is gradually increase the federal taxation on fuels.

“We are not advocating that, but if that doesn’t happen, then it is going to be very difficult for the (Volt’s) technology to become viable.” Just as importantly, Mr Lutz is pushing for more public infrastructure whereby EV owners can easily and conveniently charge their steeds without hassle or fear.

“Another thing that is going to need to happen is that we need to work with municipalities to get power stations into public parking structures, where there might be a (specially designed place) for rechargeable EV, where you would be able to plug in, close the lid, put in a code so nobody could pull your plug out and put theirs in, and then while you are parked you get a charge.” Recharging outlets should also not only be limited to big cities or built-up urban areas, Mr Lutz added, but also to anywhere that had a road network.

Mr Lutz said GM and other manufacturers needed to work harder with municipalities to see charging station infrastructure through.

“If we don’t get that done then we are going to seriously limit (the growth) of pure EVs,” Mr Lutz said.

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