There are lots of ways our government is trying to gently nudge (or coerce) automakers into making more fuel efficient cars. There are of course the upgraded CAFE standards, which demand a fleet-wide fuel economy average for cars of 35.5 mpg by 2016. The Feds have also given out billions in low-interest loans to electric car makers and alt-fuel startups. But what about a tax?
As it turns out, the Peoples Republic of China already imposes a tax on engines with more than 2.0 liters of displacement, and Washington state has also considered just such an idea. But is it a good one?
The problem as I see it with taxing engines based on size is that the best selling vehicles in the U.S. are pickup trucks. The Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado, and (formerly) Dodge Ram are always in the Top 10 best selling vehicles on an annual basis. Washington’s law would have taxed engines up to $600 for displacing 8 liters or more. While not a ton of money, some people need bigger engines to do their jobs. Taking that money out of their pocket wouldn’t exactly improve the economy. This tax likely wouldn’t stop anyone capable of affording a 1972 Cadillac Eldorado with its 8.2 liter engine, or a new Dodge Viper with its 8.4 liter engine, from buying one anyway. What is $600 on a $90,000 car?
Big engines are defiantly on their way out… and I don’t think they need much help to get there. The new fuel economy standards will likely be the final push automakers need to ditch big V8 engines. Ford has EcoBoost, and GM is working on its own version of a twin-turbo V6. Nature is running its course, and while I’ll always have a spot in my heart for big block engines… times are a-changin’.
What do you guys think? Tax a car based on the size of its engine, or let natural selection weed out what engines live and what die?