General Motor’s CEO, Dan Akerson, wants higher gas taxes and the price of a gallon of gas to increase closer to $5 a gallon. Are you kidding me?! The comments were made in an interview with the Detroit News. Regarding government imposed fuel efficiency increases Akerson stated, “You know what I’d rather have them do, this will make my Republican friends puke, as gas is going to go down here now, we ought to just slap a 50-cent or a dollar tax on a gallon of gas. People will start buying more Cruzes and they will start buying less Suburbans.” With comments like these, Akerson might make average Americans and GM investors “puke” along with those Republicans.
I have questioned the management at GM in the past, but these comments prove that Dan Akerson is not the right guy to get GM headed in the right direction. My main recent criticism has been that GM, under its current leadership, has been more concerned with campaigning for President Obama by boasting of green initiatives and job creation than focusing on profitability. These latest remarks by Akerson expose that profitability at GM is not the priority. It also exposes an arrogant tendency by millionaires, like Akerson, to disregard the pain that the average Americans feel when they are burdened with high gas prices. President Obama showed similar lack of sympathy at a Town Hall Meeting a while back when a member of the audience shared his concerns about high fuel costs. Obama’s answer was, buy a new, more efficient car. Of course, Obama’s choice for “efficient” vehicles is the Chevy Volt. So, if you can’t afford the price of gas, buy a $45,000 new car. That is logic that only people like Obama and Akerson can understand.
Akerson’s latest comments are evidence that he does not hold the best interests of shareholders in mind. Back in April, Akerson commented in a CNBC interview regarding gas prices that, “…if price per gallon went to 4.50, 5 dollars a gallon then I think that would be very detrimental to the industry.” So what Akerson is now saying is that he is willing to see GM and the auto industry “detrimented” in order to help protect the environment. Profitability at GM is subordinated for a perceived benefit to the environment. And can Akerson be so uninformed that he does not realize that Suburbans are more profitable than Cruzes? Selling more Cruzes (Chevy Volt noticeably missing from comments) than Suburbans should not be Akerson’s goal. It is no wonder that GM share price continues to suffer.
Perhaps there are those that will benefit from Akerson’s reign at GM. Environmentalists should be happy with Akerson’s call for higher gas prices. UAW members benefit as jobs are being created at a cost of billions of dollars to taxpayers as the Obama Administration boasts of the great success of the auto bailouts. Short sellers of GM should also do well as share price continues to reflect a lack of confidence in the company. But the average American loses as taxpayer money is wasted on a GM philosophy that favors politically favored groups and costly environmental initiatives. No, Mr. Akerson, gas price increases would not be good for America and they would not be good for GM.