AutoNation CEO: Gas Tax a Must To Sell Electric Cars

The automobile industry may be rolling out electric cars in attempt to save their companies, but consumers have no incentive to buy the cars if an energy policy and a gas tax are not implemented soon, said Mike Jackson, CEO of automotive retailer AutoNation .

Jackson blames the fluctuation of gas prices during the last nine months for the confusion among consumers as to why they should buy a fuel-efficient car. With gasoline below two dollars, it is no wonder people are shying away from fuel efficient technology, he said.

“I was turning down Priuses in March and Japan was sending them to other countries. I was taking Cadillac Escalades in trade on Priuses by July and now, today I can’t give away a Prius,” Jackson said. (Watch the accompanying video for his full comments. Jackson was a guest host on "Squawk Box" today and made his statements during an interview with Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm).

“Sales are down 50 percent all because the price of gasoline is on a roller coaster. I mean when are we going to have energy policy and a gas tax that puts a floor under the price of gasoline so that we can cease whipsawing the American consumer back and forth on this issue of fuel efficiency which for industries for lead times of two, three, four years, it’s an impossible situation.”

Gov. Jennifer Granholm, D-Mich., said she agreed an energy policy was necessary, but emphasized the need to use tax credits as an incentive for those who invest in cars with electric capability. The stimulus package and unfreezing credit are also necessary to boost the automobile industry, said Granholm.