Ending the Addiction

ENDING THE ADDICTION….Amory Lovins on reducing our oil use:

MJ: So how could Washington best cut fuel consumption?

AL: ….For cars, the most effective thing would be a “feebate”: In the showroom, less-efficient models would have a corresponding fee, while the more-efficient ones would get a rebate paid for by the fees. That way when choosing what model you want you would pay attention to fuel savings over its whole life, not just the first year or two. It turns out that the automakers can actually make more money this way because they will want to get their cars from the fee zone into the rebate zone by putting in more technology. The technology has a higher profit margin than the rest of the vehicle.

This is one of my favorite ideas, but I almost never it see it get any love. It’s revenue neutral, it’s progressive, it’s simple to implement, it incentivizes good behavior without any draconian regulation, and it’s highly effective. So why the low profile? Is it considered a political nonstarter? Or what?

Here’s a further suggestion: require stickers to list the estimated cost of fuel consumption over a five year period. The estimate doesn’t have to be perfect, just close enough to make it clear to consumers how much more one car costs than another over its life. Upside: it’s free. Downsides: none that I can think of.