AutoNation's boss takes stance for higher gas taxes

Published October 31, 2005

AutoNation chief executive Mike Jackson, leader of the nation's largest chain of car dealerships (including AutoWay in the Tampa Bay market), is the last guy you'd expect to go public pushing higher taxes on gasoline. Cheap gas sells cars, especially those gas-hogging SUVs. So what's up with Mike?

Hard to believe, but this CEO is actually looking ahead. He sees dire problems for the auto industry and this country unless the United States starts decreasing its dependency on gas and automakers start making more fuel-efficient vehicles. Says Jackson: "$3-a-gallon gas was a tipping point."

Now, he half-jokes, consumers are starting to shop for cars based more on gas mileage and less on the number of cup holders.

To make a point, the Fort Lauderdale exec wrote an editorial in the influential publication Automotive News. The federal tax of 18.4 cents a gallon has been unchanged for more than a decade. He wants lawmakers to boost the gas tax 10 cents a year.

"We've partied in America on cheap gas for a decade," he warns. "It is not sustainable."